A new EU research and innovation project is looking at how the food industry, a major contributor to climate change, can become climate neutral by 2050, including ways to reduce the emissions caused by cooling and heating.

The four-year project, called ENOUGH, was launched in October 2021 to support the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F) for transitioning to a sustainable food system by providing technical, financial and political tools and solutions to reduce GHG emissions in the food industry.

ENOUGH is being coordinated by SINTEF Ocean, a division of Norwegian research group SINTEF, and includes a consortium of 28 partners with expertise in the food industry, cold-chain management and advanced refrigeration systems and processes. Among the industry partners are CO2 (R744)-system providers EPTA, ENEX and ENGIE.

Funding for ENOUGH comes from the EU Horizon 2020 Program, which supports research and innovation initiatives advancing the European Green Deal.

“ENOUGH will study almost the entire food value chain, everything from farm gate to consumer, including processing, storage, transport, retail and domestic,” wrote Kristina N. Widell, Project Coordinator of ENOUGH and Senior Research Scientist at SINTEF Ocean, in a blog published in December on SINTEF’s website. The food categories selected are all perishables – meat, fish, dairy products, fruit and vegetables.

Food systems are responsible for about 21 to 37% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, noted Widell. Across the whole food chain, approximately 60% of food is refrigerated at some point, and it is estimated that 70% of emissions from food are related to perishable food.

The main source of these emissions “is related to heating and cooling demands within the food chain, but leakage of high-GWP refrigerants is another relevant source of emissions,” she wrote.

Leveraging thermal energy

One key to reducing emissions in the food industry is “utilizing surplus cold and heat,” said Widell. Another is leveraging thermal energy storage at process facilities to prevent power peaks, which can make “electricity costs especially high,” she added.

In a collaboration among partners SINTEF, NTNU and Norwegian dairy producer Rørosmeieriet, the ENOUGH project will study how cold thermal energy storage can enable a dairy to produce and store cold at night when electricity costs are low for use during the day when power is expensive and cooling is essential for processes. “It is like a battery, but you store thermal energy instead of chemical,” noted Widell.

The project aims to increase awareness of these solutions and their potential for uptake in the EU, among policymakers, businesses, investors, entrepreneurs, institutions, stakeholders and citizens.

ENOUGH will also calculate a baseline of emissions by the food sector between 1990 and 2020 to predict emissions in 2030 and 2050. These predictions consider key factors such as world population trends, climate change, the use and integration of renewable energy systems, consumer behavior and technological development.

Other partners in the ENOUGH project include research institutes and universities (SO, LSBU, UoB, INRAE, KU Leuven, CNR, TU Graz, VMU, SUT, VCBT, UNIVPM, UGOE), industry players (Eleca, Campden BRI, VISD, Arçelik, Opflux, City FM, FrostX, Yeo Valley), associations (ANIA), federations (EFFoST) and industry organizations (IIR).

“The main source [of food systems’ greenhouse emissions] is related to heating and cooling demands within the food chain, but leakage of high GWP refrigerants is another relevant source of emissions.”

Kristina N. Widell, Project Coordinator of ENOUGH and Senior Research Scientist at SINTEF Ocean

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