Interview with Mrs. Paola Centonze, Communication and Marketing Director
Trigeneration for 600 kW electricity, 660 kW heating and 420 kW cooling
Free Cooling chiller plant for 1200 kW cooling
Trigeneration for 400 kW electricity, 520 kW heating and 370 kW cooling
My name is Paola Centonze and I am in charge of the Marketing and Communication Department of ITP S.p.A. As such, I am familiar with all the company’s projects, and communicate the achieved results and our satisfaction with them. Our company manufactures flexible packaging films, mainly for the food industry. The process involves bubble extrusion and is highly energy intensive. Huge amounts of electric and cooling energy are needed in the process.
What does energy efficiency mean to your company and how important is it in your production?
Because of the huge energy needs of our production process, to us energy efficiency means producing more goods at a lower energy cost. It was crucial for us to find a way to reduce our energy costs. On the other hand, it has a direct positive environmental impact, because our production cycle emits lower CO2 levels in the environment as a direct consequence of our reduced energy consumption. That certainly reinforces our company’s positive public image as well.
When did you first start thinking of improving the energy profile of your business? Which alternative solutions did you compare and what made you choose cogeneration?
In our numerous analyses we had identified a real need for such an improvement and initially evaluated mainly photovoltaic solar panels as a solution in that direction. Going into more details though, we could see its performance level and its irregular output which did not match the continuous nature of our production cycle. Coupled with the very long return of such an investment, these factors made us naturally incline more towards cogeneration. In the analysis of a cogeneration solution, Termogamma® proposed us to upgrade it to trigeneration and in fact this option won because of its reduced payback time and higher performance. With trigeneration we use methane to generate our own electric energy, chilled water and hot water.
Having made this step a few years ago, is your company more competitive now?
The market in which we operate is extremely competitive and on international level foreign producers have an advantage over us because of our very high costs of production. For that reason, investments in technologies and innovation are very important for us and encompass our products, technologies and processes. As a forward-looking company our investments are focused also on reducing our environmental impact and an investment in cogeneration fits exactly within the perspective of innovation, improvement and cost-cutting, all of which persist in our reality. Our investment in cogeneration has affirmed our vision of the future and helped us very much in reducing our production costs, improving undoubtedly our market competitiveness, as our competitors are big multinational players.
How did you learn about Termogamma® and how long did it take you to make a decision?
We learned about Termogamma® by word of mouth. We contacted them and they allowed us to check the efficiency of similar projects already installed by them for other companies. After that they analyzed our production process and other relevant factors in our environment in order to evaluate the efficiency of a project for our company. As a last step, we compared the market prices of the proposed solution and the competition. We started by trusting the word of mouth and in the course of three or four months we could make a final decision based on a real confirmation of the validity of the proposed solution.
What were your main concerns, doubts, etc. in the decision-making stage?
Our doubts in the beginning were related to the real efficiency of this type of investment. Even though we are used to making substantial investments in technologies and innovation such as our own Research and Development Laboratory for example, by that time our investments involved mainly our own production equipment, new products, logistics and handling. Such an investment therefore was not part of our daily life and we had some difficulty in believing in its promised return of three years. Yet, we decided to trust Termogamma® and today we are very satisfied, because in three years we saw the real advantages of this project and technology.
When did you start feeling the real change in your energy costs? Would you like to share some figures with us?
We have set up a very precise measurement of our energy costs and from the very first months of the plant’s functioning we could verify that the returns generated by it were really happening. So the benefit could be felt from the very first months after its installation. Our initial doubts were completely resolved and more importantly I am saying this referring to an investment of EUR 1,000,000, for which our annual return amounts to EUR 300,000, numbers completely in line with the economic projections made by Termogamma® during the offer discussion period.
How much time did it take to have the system installed?
From the signing of the contract to the plant’s commissioning it took around 5 months.
Were the installation and commissioning smooth and quick? Did they cause you any trouble?
We did not have any technical problems whatsoever during the installation and commissioning phase and our production process was not affected at all. The only difficulties we had were bureaucratic ones related to the issuing of white certificates but they were resolved by a company recommended to us by Termogamma®.
How about the system’s maintenance and service? Is it performed by your in-house technicians or by Termogamma®?
In the early negotiation stages, Termogamma® offered us a comprehensive subscription-based service, which we naturally accepted. It includes interventions, maintenance and warranties based on the effective hours of operation of the cogeneration engine. It has clear and well-defined costs and we could verify that in the course of time. A special feature of our full-service contract with Termogamma is their warranty that if the plant stops for any reason and duration, even if for ten days for example, our loss of profit will be compensated.
What is your advice to companies currently considering whether to install this type of system?
We recommend not only an investment in cogeneration but also the company we work with, Termogamma®. I would also recommend a specific aspect, which is to choose a system which is undersized, because maximum performance is achieved through full use of the thermodynamic process.
Why would you recommend Termogamma® to these companies?
We recommend Termogamma® for such an investment because of their assistance – specialized, technical, adequate, and adapted to the specific company’s reality. Their calculations are precise, they help with the project’s business plan, they ensure their presence and support after installation of the system. So much so, that in addition to our second cogenerator, which has already started operation, we are actually considering to install a third plant.