Solar energy in bakery production

The bakery industry is the most energy-intensive among various types of food industry, and the share of electricity in the cost structure exceeds 20%. Compared to the dairy and meat industries, energy costs for product production are many times higher. Consequently, the reduction of electricity costs provides significant savings in operating costs and leads to a reduction in the cost of production. In organic production, the ideology itself requires the use of all possible means to reduce the impact on the environment. And the use of solar energy, as of today, is one of the best means of increasing energy efficiency, which does not create harmful emissions either directly at the place of production, or in a global context.

One of the simple solutions for increasing energy efficiency, which can be applied to almost any scale of production, is to use the available space to obtain electricity from the sun and thus reduce dependence on external energy supply. In addition, in the context of the current challenges of martial law and unstable energy supply throughout Ukraine, the use of appropriate equipment allows for uninterrupted and round-the-clock power from the sun for various equipment, such as refrigerators for food preservation. This does not allow to fully ensure the baking process, which requires significant power, but increases the overall safety of the food industry and the sustainability of existing and new businesses. Technologies for converting solar radiation into electrical energy (photovoltaics) are not new. The first results were obtained by Alexander Becquerel back in 1839, and during the Second World War, photovoltaic elements were already actively used to power devices of low power.

Modern photovoltaics is developing rapidly. However, despite numerous support programs, clarifications and efforts of specialized public and private institutions – there is a lack of a systematic approach and mass understanding of how to properly use solar energy to achieve the best results.

When we talk about organic production, local solar electricity generation was and remains the means that has the least impact on the environment, so the use of solar energy should be given the greatest attention.

Alternative energy and local electricity generation developed rapidly in Ukraine from 2015 to 2019, and many private households and enterprises have been using modern technologies for a long time, and many of those who invested money in small-scale solar energy have even fully returned these investments due to savings. At the same time, there are still many prejudices in the minds of consumers and owners that prevent the widespread use of existing technologies. Including:

  • Electricity from the sun is complicated and not clear;
  • Electricity from the sun is expensive;
  • Electricity from the sun – works only on a large scale;
  • Electricity from the sun does not always work (depends on the weather and season).

From this list, only the last statement is true. Indeed, the amount of electricity that can be obtained to meet one’s own needs depends on the amount of direct solar radiation. But this statement should also be considered through the prism of the total consumption of electricity in production processes. Actually:

  • Electricity from the sun is simple and, compared to the operation and maintenance of technological equipment, does not require any special attention and costs. With the proper quality of the used equipment and system programming, the local solar power plant will work for years in a fully automatic mode and will provide information in a convenient format to the automated enterprise management systems.
  • Electricity from the sun – like any other equipment, requires capital investment at the beginning, but leads to a decrease in operating costs in the long term, therefore, saves money, so the effectiveness of the investment, unlike other equipment, should be considered in terms of the return period of the invested money Thus, the latest project implemented by the Avenston company on the roof of the production premises of the Biscotti company in the Lviv region allows for a full return of funds in less than 3 years.
  • Electricity from the sun – works on any scale, which is determined only by the available opportunities for the location of solar panels on any surface. Even the canopy over the window of a small kiosk, made with the use of solar panels, allows to reimburse more than 6 thousand hryvnias in the cost of electricity necessary for the operation of the establishment during the year.
  • Electric energy is the most convenient and flexible among all types of energy used in human activities. Thanks to its properties, it can be easily and automatically saved, directed in the required direction, switched, and converted into another type of energy. But an important principle of sustainability is minimal impact, that is, the best performance indicators are achieved in the absence of transformations. So, for example, if you need thermal energy, you should capture it, and not use electric heating elements that are powered by solar panels.
  • The best results are achieved when starting with an understanding of the overall energy balance, that is, with an audit of electrical energy needs and sources of supply. As a result, the issue of saving resources should be resolved first, and only then should alternative sources of generation be sought.

As for the bakery industry, where the lion’s share of energy is not only converted into heat for baking, but also lost due to the release of excess heat from the premises into the atmosphere – a separate area of research and practical application is energy recovery. That is, the capture of excess, actually lost energy and its return to the energy system of the enterprise. For example, with the help of heat pumps, take excess air temperature in production premises and use it to heat water for technological cycles or household needs, use it for heating administrative premises, etc. But this is a topic for a separate study.

The use of a wide range of available equipment to meet the needs of the bakery industry today allows you to significantly reduce operating costs, demonstrate a responsible attitude to the use of resources, and increase the sustainability of the operation of a production and/or trade facility. But even this separate means of increasing energy efficiency should be considered in the general complex of measures that have a synergistic effect. which requires careful calculation and management of the activities of the production enterprise.


Serhiy Green, National University of Food Technologies, Kyiv, Ukraine


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