Energy costs for Canada's fish processing sector are becoming an increasingly important component of the total cost of operations. Directly and indirectly, energy use in the fish processing sector also contributes to Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. There are, therefore, competitive as well as environmental reasons for fish processing operations to examine their energy consumption comprehensively.
In association with the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (CIPEC), the Fisheries Council of Canada (FCC) retained Corporate Renaissance Group (CRG) to work with fish processing companies to establish energy benchmarks for salt-and-dry processing operations in Nova Scotia and lobster processing operations in Prince Edward Island. Companies that participated in this project have received detailed reports specific to their operations, under separate cover, as well as the findings of this report.
CIPEC consists of 25 task forces, representing the various industrial sectors in Canada, and it is a partnership of industrial associations, industry and the Government of Canada, represented by the Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). The CIPEC Task Forces act as focal points for identifying energy efficiency potential and improvement opportunities, establishing sector energy efficiency targets, reviewing and addressing barriers, and developing and implementing strategies for target achievements.
The FCC sponsored this energy benchmarking analysis of the fish and lobster plants in Canada's Atlantic provinces. Two separate but parallel studies were undertaken: first, a study of energy consumption among five salt-and-dry fish processing operations in Nova Scotia; and second, a study of four lobster processing plants in Prince Edward Island.
The OEE of NRCan has provided assistance for this work. This study is a part of ongoing NRCan efforts to stimulate more effective use of energy in Canada.
This benchmarking analysis of the Canadian fish processing sector examines the energy consumption and costs for appropriate production stages for each fish processing group. The analysis is limited to the ongoing operations of the processing plants, starting with the landing of the fish/lobster and ending with freezer/cooler storage of the final product. Among other things, fuel used by the fishing fleet and in delivery trucks is excluded from this analysis.
The initial phase of each study involved interviews with management personnel at a number of plants in order to lay out a reasonable process flow diagram for each type of operation (salt-and-dry and lobster). These diagrams identified the series of stages of production for which energy consumption could be separately analysed during the project. They also identified a number of shared services that are used in several stages of production (e.g. material handling equipment) or for several products (e.g. coolers).
At the beginning of the second (data collection) phase, a CRG consultant visited each plant participating in the study in order to collect detailed information on the following:
- annual plant production for a recent complete year
- total plant energy consumption and costs for the year, by fuel type
- an inventory of energy-consuming machinery and equipment, including energy consumption rates (or operating parameters) and hours-in-service for the year
- where a plant processes products other than those that are the focus of the study (i.e. other than lobster or salt-and-dry fish), an estimate of the proportion of total use for each process or piece of equipment that is related to these other products
- in the case of shared services, the proportion of energy consumption that can be assigned to each stage of production
Following these site visits, CRG worked with each plant through a series of follow-up telephone, e-mail and fax enquiries to complete the collection of all of the data required to proceed with the benchmarking analysis. In the frequent cases where estimates of various operating parameters were required, these estimates were reviewed with plant personnel.
At the completion of the data collection process, CRG prepared a separate (confidential) report for each plant, providing a summary of the energy use, production data, assumptions and a preliminary analysis of each plant's energy use profile by stage of production. Each plant was asked to review the equipment inventory, estimated energy consumption for each piece of equipment and the summaries by stage of production within the context of total plant energy consumption and costs. In particular, plants were asked to ensure that no transcription errors had been made in the equipment inventory record, that reasonable hours-of-use estimates were being used in the analysis, and that estimates of production volumes for each stage of production were appropriate.
After participating plants had provided revisions, the energy consumption and costs per short ton (ton) were calculated for each stage of production. Then this final report was prepared to provide the following:
- revised estimates of energy consumption by stage of production
- energy costs per ton of fish/lobster processed at each stage of production
- total energy consumption and costs associated with production of a standard product – in the case of fish, one ton of skin-on, ordinary-cure dried fish produced from purchased fresh fish; in the case of lobster processing, three distinct products were compared: frozen tails, frozen vacuum-packed/canned lobster meat, and frozen whole lobster
- a detailed inter-plant comparison of energy consumption and costs per ton among the participating plants, for each stage of production
In all cases, energy consumption was based on kilowatt hour equivalents (kWh equivalent). The conversion factors for other categories of energy are illustrated below. These conversions were derived from energy content factors reported in Canada's Energy Outlook 1996–2000 (Natural Resources Canada, April 1997).
|Light fuel oil||L||10.40|
The inter-plant comparisons were based on the following unit costs and disaggregation into components for both fish- and lobster-processing facilities.
Salt-and-Dry Fish Processing
Comparative Energy Costs
Study participants learned about their plants' total energy costs per unit of output and by particular process relative to study participants producing similar products. The figure below illustrates the relative positioning of Plant 3 on the basis of total energy costs per unit of output.
Moreover, participants learned whether their challenge was energy cost or energy efficiency, as illustrated below.
Use for Results
Undertaking an energy benchmarking study (based on year 2002 data) provides the beginning point for subsequent monitoring at plant and production stage levels.</
Having information on the relative rankings of their plants with respect to both the cost of energy and its efficient use will enable plants to assess the competitive impact of their energy use. Furthermore, with energy data at the production stage level, plants are directed to process stages, where they have a competitive advantage/disadvantage, for more intensive analysis. This analysis would impact future investment decisions regarding the implementation of more energy-efficient technologies. Relative energy pricing information also provides an incentive for assessing the cause of differential pricing among energy suppliers.</