Kevin Lawton, the host of The New Warehouse Podcast, interviewed Viking Cold Solutions’ President & CEO James Bell to discuss the current and future state of digitization and sustainability inside refrigerated warehouses. They discuss how digitization and thermal energy storage work in cold storage to maximize the efficiency, resiliency, and sustainability of the cold chain.
The conversation also covers some of the additional levels of complexity of refrigerated spaces and how the impacts of the pandemic have driven the adoption of technologies such as WMS, automation, robotics, and thermal energy storage inside refrigerated warehouses. James and Kevin also discuss the market conditions driving more construction of cold storage facilities and how digitization and new technology is being included in the design and building of new warehouses.
Additionally, Kevin and James cover the electrical grid impacts of refrigerated spaces, and how with thermal energy storage and warehouse digitization operators can reduce costs and create new revenue streams.
The coronavirus pandemic has greatly disrupted the U.S. food industry, resulting in significant changes in consumer behavior and an increased demand for industrial cold storage warehouse space. With quarantines still in effect around most of the country, consumers have been forced to eat at home more and either “panic-buy” large quantities of extra groceries and/or shift to more online orders more frequently. Additionally, because of its longer shelf-life and surge in available options, the frozen food category has seen significant growth in both online and in-person grocery purchases, forcing grocery and cold storage facilities to scramble to keep up.
According to the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), seven in 10 frozen food shoppers have increased the amount of frozen food they’re buying since the start of the pandemic. Six months in, U.S. shoppers are continuing to stock up their freezers with frozen meals, meats, ice cream, and frozen novelties. Not only is the number of consumers purchasing frozen food growing, but many have also switched to ordering directly online from restaurants and foodservice distributors. The question is: How has this rapidly changing behavior affected the cold storage industry – an essential element of our supply chain dedicated to protecting, delivering, and handling temperature-controlled goods in the United States.
Warehouse demand, in general, has been accelerating in recent years, largely due to the booming e-commerce industry. The world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm, Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis (CBRE), examined the relationship between e-commerce grocery growth and cold storage warehouse capacity in its 2019 “Food on Demand Series: Cold Storage Logistics Unpacked” report, forecasting that in order to meet the demand generated by online grocery sales, an additional 75 to 100 million sq. ft. of industrial freezer and cooler space will be needed within the next five years – an increase of roughly 47%. CBRE researchers also suggest that much of the cold-storage sector’s growth is likely to occur in gateway markets like Los Angeles and the New York area, as well as in top food-producing states such as California, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, and Washington state.
As the pandemic persists, cold storage facilities are at record high capacity and struggling to keep up with the continuous demand. Cold storage facilities typically fall into the categories of public refrigerated warehouses (PRWs), foodservice and wholesale, grocery distribution centers and retail stores, and food processing facilities. Due to changing demand, PRWs have been forced to provide smaller, more frequent orders. National food industry news source, The Food Institute, stated that “Instead of supplying a full pallet of a single product to a warehouse, PRWs are now delivering a pallet with multiple products directly to the store. These small orders increase labor requirements and change transportation options drastically.” Many expect major PRWs to accelerate the industry’s consolidation trend in order to gain more control over the United States’ cold storage footprint.
It is also expected that to address the changing market, cold storage facility operators will be proactively upgrading their warehouses with new technologies to improve operational efficiency and flexibility. Warehouse upgrades that are seeing a surge in popularity include technologies such as Viking Cold Solutions thermal energy storage (TES), warehouse management systems (WMS), and material handling automation and robotic systems. The intelligence platform of Viking Cold’s TES system not only optimizes temperatures and energy use, but provides valuable, actionable data that allows operators to make operational improvements.
Additionally, there has been a growing interest in sustainable, carbon-reducing technologies. Viking Cold’s thermal energy storage systems also address these needs by increasing refrigeration energy efficiency an average of 26% while better protecting food and improving temperature resiliency. By absorbing and consolidating up to 85% of the heat infiltration, TES also allows refrigeration systems to be safely cycled off for up to 13 hours each day to avoid demand or time-of-use energy fees, while maintaining stable temperatures. The technology leverages existing refrigeration systems and easily integrates with controls, other data platforms, and racking structures to bring efficiency, flexibility, and additional food protection to the frozen food chain.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated changes in consumer behavior, implementation of technology, and broad market trends in the food industry. The entire distribution chain from food processors to logistics companies to retailers is under added pressure to make improvements to stay profitable and keep food on our tables. The future remains unclear but enabling technologies like Viking Cold’s TES are helping the food and beverage industry feed our families by improving operations, cutting costs, and lowering the GHG emissions of refrigeration.
Cold Facts magazine has listed Viking Cold Solutions among the cutting-edge warehouse energy technologies delivering cost-efficient and sustainable benefits in temperature-controlled applications.
The magazine, published by the Global Cold Chain Alliance, included Viking Cold in an overview of technologies that have advanced in recent years to provide “savvy facilities” with new ways of answering their refrigeration challenges.
The article explains how Viking Cold’s thermal energy storage (TES) technology allows operators to safely shift energy use during high-tariff periods to maximize cost savings while also reducing total energy consumption. It highlights how TES opens the door to more renewable energy use while enabling operators to take advantage of utility programs, incentives, and demand-response economics.
James Bell, President & CEO of Viking Cold, noted that the cloud-based intelligence platform used to manage TES provides operators with the controls and visibility to maximize operational efficiency in cold storage facilities. At the same time, it minimizes the use of refrigeration equipment.
He explained how it draws on real-time data to automate temperature optimization and energy consumption. The long-duration storage technology discharges for up to 13 hours per day to maintain stable temperatures that protect food quality and shelf life, even if electricity or equipment fails.
Bell added that TES technology can interface with warehouse management systems, automation platforms, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Adoption of all of these potentially powerful technologies is accelerating in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Bell, as facilities look to closely measure, monitor, and limit energy consumption with a view to introducing greater cost reduction and enhancing sustainability.
“Cold storage and electrical grid operators both are facing new energy challenges. As the world moves towards renewables and green sources of electricity, TES technology is a unique and powerful tool to help address these challenges,” Bell concluded.
To read the full article on warehouse energy alternatives, visit the Cold Facts magazine page on the GCCA website. The article starts on page 28.
For more information on Viking Cold’s cutting-edge thermal energy storage technology, and how it can enhance cost efficiencies and sustainability for your cold storage facilities, get in touch today.
Viking Cold provided insight into the advantages of its Thermal Energy Storage technology as part of an educational webinar hosted by the Energy Storage Association (ESA).
The session, titled Thermal Energy Storage: Challenges and Opportunities, gave ESA members a chance to learn about the technologies and trends shaping the thermal energy storage sector, forming part of the association’s work to help establish a more resilient, efficient, sustainable, and affordable electrical grid.
Marc Chupka, ESA’s Vice President of Research and Programs, welcomed Collin Coker, Vice President Sales & Marketing, to share an overview of Viking Cold’s Thermal Energy Storage technology and highlight how it fits into this landscape.
Coker explained how TES has a drastically lower levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of two cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), making it far more cost-effective than conventional electrical storage mediums, such as lithium-ion batteries.
He briefed the ESA audience on the phase change materials (PCM) at the heart of Viking Cold technology, describing how it demonstrates significantly higher heat-absorption rates compared with frozen food, while continuously releasing cold energy to provide stable temperatures that protect products held in commercial & industrial (C&I) warehouse environments as well as grocery store and restaurant walk-in freezers.
Coker pointed to the fact that resiliency is built into the Viking Cold TES solution since no power is required and the PCM can hold temperatures three times longer than the thermal mass of food alone, helping defend chilled environments against power outages, natural disasters, and mechanical failures.
With intelligent controls to manage energy release over extended periods and 24/7 visibility of energy, temperature, and operational data, Coker added that Viking Cold brings greater levels of efficiency to cold chain environments while enhancing sustainability efforts. In the case of one customer, net power consumption has declined by 43% over a 13-hour period along with a 29% peak demand reduction, he said.
Coker went on to highlight successful utility-supported programs involving Viking Cold’s TES technology, which includes a multi-customer project involving some of the largest food distribution companies in the world. In total, this initiative accomplished 1.3 megawatts (MW) of energy curtailment over a four hour ICAP period.
He concluded with the findings from a third-party measurement and verification study, showing how one site is using Viking Cold’s TES technology in combination with excess solar power generation during the day to achieve a 95% reduction in overnight energy consumption, effectively taking the site off the grid.
The ESA webinar is available in full, including access to the accompanying slides, via the ESA’s YouTube channel.
For more information on how Viking Cold’s Thermal Energy Storage is bringing greater levels of resiliency, efficiency, sustainability, and affordability to cold chain environments, get in touch with us today.
POWER magazine, a leading source of information for the power generation industry, has published an article highlighting the benefits of Viking Cold’s Thermal Energy Storage (TES) technology in managing power demand for utilities and cold storage customers.
The article, authored by Collin Coker, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Viking Cold, gave an overview of the changing energy landscape, where factors such as the increase in Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) and the variability of renewable generation sources are having a bearing on power providers’ ability to manage demand when and where it is needed.
Coker points out that time of use, capacity, transmission, and distribution all impact the total cost of electricity for the end-user. This presents an acute issue for food businesses with commercial and industrial (C&I) refrigerated facilities, where a continuous energy supply is needed to control temperature fluctuations and avoid any damage being caused to the products being stored.
Underlining this point, he cites data showing that C&I refrigeration sites have the highest demand per square foot of any industrial load, with energy often accounting for up to 70% of their total electric bill.
Coker explains how Viking Cold’s TES technology has been designed specifically for such applications, using proprietary Phase Change Material that remains near a constant temperature while storing large amounts of energy that can be released over long periods, covering higher cost periods of peak demand.
Among the Viking Cold clients the article highlighted as managing demand through the use of TES was Dreisbach Enterprises in Richmond, California, which has reduced demand between 300 kW to 500 kW for 13 hours per day, six days a week while also improving temperature stability by 50% and avoiding the technique of ‘flywheeling’ on the food. Overall, Dreisbach Enterprises was able to achieve a cut in freezer energy consumption of 35%.
To read the full article, and for more news and insight into energy operations and maintenance, visit the POWER magazine website.
For more information on how Thermal Energy Storage can bring greater control and cost-savings to your cold storage facility, get in touch with Viking Cold today.
VIKING COLD SOLUTIONS ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF XCEL ENERGY’S CUSTOM THERMAL STORAGE INCENTIVE PROGRAM
Utility Program Funds Up to 90% of Energy-Saving Technology Upgrades for Frozen Food Producers and Cold Storage Warehouse Operators in Colorado and Minnesota
HOUSTON, Sept. 22, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Viking Cold Solutions, the leading thermal energy storage technology provider for the low-temperature cold storage and frozen food industries, announces the inclusion of its award-winning energy storage technology in Xcel Energy’s new Custom Thermal Storage Incentive Program, part of their Custom Efficiency programs in Colorado and Minnesota.
As an industry leader in delivering clean energy solutions, Xcel Energy is currently offering significant funding for energy-saving technology upgrades, such as Viking Cold’s Thermal Energy Storage (TES) systems, which safely reduce demand and add temperature resiliency and efficiency to low-temperature facilities with large energy needs.
The majority of the TES system and installation costs will be funded by Xcel Energy’s Custom Thermal Storage Incentive Program and the remainder can be paid for out of the energy savings. By working with the utility to deploy innovative technology that addresses grid challenges and reduces emissions, owners of cold storage and frozen food facilities can save up to 25% or more on their monthly energy costs.
“Xcel Energy’s support of Viking Cold technology is further confirmation that TES creates value for both the utility as well as frozen food and cold storage customers. The utilities are incentivizing customers to upgrade their facilities with the latest efficiency and sustainability technology, such as TES, to provide safe, long-duration demand reduction. This helps customers in Colorado and Minnesota achieve their financial and sustainability goals,” said Collin Coker, Viking Cold’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing.
Viking Cold works directly with Xcel Energy representatives to assist customers through the program application process to maximize incentives, install the TES technology, and optimize the facility’s operation and energy use.
To learn more about how to save money while reducing your environmental impact and to initiate the application process, go to vikingcold.com/xcel.
In addition to Xcel Energy, Viking Cold Solutions is proud to collaborate on demand management and efficiency programs in partnership with other prominent U.S. utilities shaping a clean energy future, including Eversource Energy, National Grid, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Southern California Edison Co., San Diego Gas & Electric Co., and many more.
About Xcel Energy
Xcel Energy provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company is an industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices. For more information, visit xcelenergy.com.
About Viking Cold Solutions
Viking Cold Solutions is the leading long-duration thermal energy storage technology provider to the energy-intensive frozen/low-temperature cold storage and frozen food industries. Viking Cold delivers cost-effective and flexible energy management services that protect food and help reduce environmental impact. Its patented Thermal Energy Storage system with phase change material (PCM) and intelligent controls reduces cold storage energy costs up to 25 percent or more, while sustainably improving temperature stability and optimizing refrigeration operations. Viking Cold Solutions’ TES systems have been measured, verified, and incentivized by energy utilities across the U.S. and are currently in use around the world providing energy management and efficiency to utilities, grocery stores, low-temperature warehouses, and restaurants.
Cold storage firm, Isla Frio Refrigeration Corp., recently acquired a former PepsiCo bottling and distribution plant in Cidra, Puerto Rico. The 147,000 square-foot building on eight acres is being fully renovated to become a state-of-the-art frozen and refrigerated food warehouse, beginning with 50,000 square feet of frozen storage. The end goal of the $10 million project is to supply hurricane-resistant cold and dry storage space for the island while also providing thermal resilience with our Thermal Energy Storage (TES) technology for temperature-controlled goods in the event of a power outage.
Over the years, Puerto Rico has been hit exceptionally hard by natural disasters and other crises, and with an unreliable power grid, these events inflict significant impacts on supply chain efficiency and functionality. During Hurricane Maria in 2017 and the lengthy power loss that followed, our clients’ facilities on the island did not lose any food product, thanks to the TES systems they have installed.
The recent coronavirus pandemic has also amplified the growing need for more cold storage capacity and the island-wide shortage of warehouse space.
The recent acquisition of the PepsiCo plant provides an opportunity to build a highly efficient, energy-secure cold storage facility to support the recovering supply chain and electrical grid on the island.
The energy resources of this construction project are in alignment with the guiding principles of Puerto Rico’s overall grid modernization plan. Led by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the $20 billion plan will reconstruct the island’s grid, ultimately dividing it into eight self-sufficient mini-grids and providing residents with a safer, greener, and more resilient energy supply. In addition, the island has committed to generating 40% of its power from renewables by 2025 and 100% by 2050. These ambitious clean energy goals will drive the widespread adoption of renewable energy generation, which is complemented through the use of sustainable energy storage technologies like our TES systems.
“Puerto Rico has always been very important to Viking Cold Solutions. Our first warehouse installation was on this beautiful island, and it’s appropriate that our first new cold storage construction project be right here in Cidre, PR,” said Paul Robbins, Founder of Viking Cold Solutions.
The Isla Frio project, which began construction in June 2020, will be Viking Cold’s first system installation to be part of a facility’s original design and construction plan; previous installations have been facility retrofit projects. Phase One will be to install our technology and get the cold storage facility up and running by December. Phase Two will build out the rest of the site and may eventually include an onsite solar power resource to assist in powering the facility.
Once the plant is operational with TES technology, carbon emissions and energy use will be minimized, enhanced energy resilience and flexibility will be in place, and the facility will benefit from lower electricity costs – a significant value on an island with among the highest electricity costs in the U.S. The building itself is connected to a large diesel generator to provide backup power and is built at a high elevation, better protecting it from floods. During extended grid interruptions or power outages, the generator and its fuel can be conserved because the TES technology provides built-in temperature resilience to protect food up to several days without power.
We are proud to again be working with another Puerto Rico-based company, this time to help them build their cold storage resources in a sustainable way right from the start. By implementing our energy storage technology, Puerto Rico is one step closer to meeting its goal of generating 100% of its power from renewables by 2050.
Karma Impact, the impact investment news site aimed at the alternative investment community, published an overview of the impact of Viking Cold Solutions’ technology on energy consumption and costs, resilience, and sustainability.
Starting with the story of Viking Cold, from the initial insight of its founder Paul Robbins, up to its current status as a provider of proven energy savings, Karma Impact outlines the key advantages of Viking Cold Solutions for impact investors.
Karma Impact describes how Viking Cold’s Thermal Energy Storage (TES) technology allows cold storage facilities to consume electricity when prices are lowest, and then maintain low temperatures within each facility while reducing refrigeration energy through the rest of the day. Using sealed containers of a phase change material, managed and monitored through intelligent software, the system with no mechanical components provides efficiency and cost reductions of 25-50% for low-temperature facilities.
Of particular interest to the impact investment community, as Karma Impact noted, is the potential to pair Viking Cold’s TES solutions with renewable energy, such as solar. This combination allows facilities to reduce electricity consumed from the grid by up to 95%, and while facilities managers would be impressed by the resulting cost savings, impact investors will be struck by the ability to dramatically reduce electricity consumption in an energy intensive sector of the economy.
Alternatives to Viking Cold’s TES technologies might understandably be less attractive to impact investors. Traditional batteries, such as Lithium-ion batteries, are environmentally damaging, Karma Impact notes. Alternatively, sub-cooling food to attempt to lower energy costs (often called “flywheeling”) can decrease food quality.
Moreover, Karma Impact notes the impact of Viking Cold’s technology in improving resilience in the face of natural disasters, referencing the experiences of Viking Cold’s customers in Puerto Rico during Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
Thunder Said Energy, the research consultancy for energy technologies, has released a review of the benefits of thermal energy storage for refrigeration, renewable energy sources, and energy storage at large.
Phase Change Materials (PCM), such as those used by Viking Cold Solutions, are described by the report as a “game-changer” for energy storage technology, particularly with reference to their use alongside renewable energy. The report explains the economics of cold storage, the functioning of Phase Change Materials, and covers a review of 5,800 patents in the space.
Thunder Said’s Phase Change Materials review made the key observation that PCM technologies can:
Earn double-digit Internal Rate of Return
Unlock 20% efficiency gains in freezers and refrigerators
Provide superior efficiency over battery storage
Noting that refrigerators and freezers comprise 9% of the US electric grid, including consumption across 4,200 warehouses, 40,000 supermarkets, and 620,000 restaurants, Thunder Said is bullish on the potentials of Phase Change Materials.
The PCM report, which can be purchased from the authors here, highlights the achievements of Viking Cold Solutions’ thermal energy management technologies, the industry-leading performance that will be of particular interest to the readers. While Thunder Said expects 20% improvements in efficiency gains and commensurate cost savings, Viking Cold’s own installations have delivered efficiency improvements and cost savings of between 25% and 50%, out-performing the analysts’ expectations.
Viking Cold Solutions has developed its own PCMs and proprietary software from its headquarters in Houston, Texas, and now has the technology installed and running in locations from California to Puerto Rico and Mexico to Australia, with years of reliable operation and documented case studies to confirm the technology’s effectiveness in reducing cost, energy consumption, and carbon emissions.
For specific case studies and overviews of Viking Cold Solutions’ technology’s performance, see our Resources. And to find out how we can improve your energy efficiency and reduce your energy costs, contact us here.
Forbes reports that the US cold storage market is due for strong growth in the next few years, and that the logistics, warehousing, and distribution space holds considerable potential for value creation.
In a recent Forbes post describing cold storage opportunities, Mergermarket quotes a report from business consulting firm Grand View Research which calculates that global cold storage market will reach $212.5 billion by 2025, expanding at a compound annual rate of 12.2%. The piece continues to describe how in the US an additional 100 million square feet of cold storage space is needed by 2026 to meet the demands of a growing population and notes that the rise in e-commerce will create additional warehouse demand.
Amid discussion of consolidation and acquisitions within the third-party logistics sector, noting that warehouse and fulfillment M&A has increased over the last few years with 84 transactions announced in 2019, Forbes picked Viking Cold Solutions as a specific example of a technology partner whose thermal energy storage (TES) technology can unlock value within the sector, describing the function of Viking Cold’s long-duration TES as a way to allow cold storage facilities “to be upgraded into virtual power plants”.
Christopher Nolan, managing director of Dresner Partners, notes that the recent pandemic has exposed inefficiencies within the system. Rather than creating short term challenges, COVID has instead created focus on endemic issues, pushing “grocery retailers (to) better see back up the chain and what they’re lacking”, Nolan notes, with new technology and IT as areas with notable potential.
Quoting James Bell, CEO of Viking Cold Solutions, Forbes noted that within the logistics space energy is the second-highest cost, only after labor, and that TES allows distribution companies and power providers to address mounting supply chain and energy challenges.
To read the Forbes Mergermarket post, click here. Or contact us today to learn how Viking Cold’s thermal energy storage solutions can unlock cold storage opportunities for you.