Smart metering helps Viridor meet its tough energy targets

The Go Ahead Group
Viridor is one of the UK’s leading recycling, renewable energy and waste management companies. Part of the FTSE 250 Pennon Group, Viridor puts waste into action, transforming waste into high quality recyclables, raw materials and energy.


Viridor is one of the UK’s leading recycling, renewable energy and waste management companies. Part of the FTSE 250 Pennon Group, Viridor puts waste into action, transforming waste into high quality recyclables, raw materials and energy.

The entire business takes a comprehensive approach to energy usage and reduction, it has committed to becoming 20% more energy efficient by 2015/16. Viridor also participates in the UK’s mandatory Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) scheme as part of the Pennon Group, reporting its greenhouse gas emissions through the internationally recognised Carbon Disclosure Project.

Each year Viridor handles an impressive eight million tonnes of recyclables and waste materials for customers from all sectors across the UK. Ironically, as the company has become more successful at recovering value from waste (around 50% of its profits now come from this revenue stream), it has in turn become a more energy intensive business.

As Andrew Whitehorn, Head of Carbon Management at Viridor explains, this has presented a new set of challenges for the company. “Our electricity consumption increased by just under a third during 2010/11. The key driver behind this increase is the development and commissioning of major recycling and energy recovery infrastructure as part of our 25 year Greater Manchester PFI contract.”

Andrew continued, “These new and refurbished facilities will enable significant material and energy recovery and will result in substantial whole life carbon savings. It is expected that once commissioning of these facilities is complete, electricity consumption will stabilise or even reduce.”

Viridor employs 3,200 staff in over 300 locations throughout the UK and strives to be an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable business. One of the most important ways it manages to achieve this is by ensuring it is carrying out all its operations in the most energy efficient way.

Energy insight

In order to meet its targets, Viridor needed to have a very clear understanding about its consumption profiles so it could then identify reduction opportunities. The company turned to Automated Meter Readings (AMR) to allow it to track accurate energy data, using IMServ, the UK’s largest independent energy management provider and provider of business-focused advanced metering solutions.

There are many benefits of advanced meters, from the easy integration of energy selling between the customer and the power company, greater flexibility for tariffs, to more variety of payment options, including the ability to use pre-payment on energy bills to help customers manage their finances more effectively. In addition, advanced meters can also improve forecasting for accurate estimations of future energy demands.

IMServ works closely with many FTSE 250 organisations and companies within the commercial and industrial sectors, advising on effective energy management solutions. The company offers a range of monitoring, visualisation and control services that allow businesses to gain greater insight into their water and electricity usage.

Andrew set up AMR throughout the company’s 300 locations, he explains, “All our sites and services are operated under the company’s business management system incorporating the highest environmental, quality and health and safety standards. We needed to get a clearer picture about our energy usage so that we could then address ways to reduce consumption.”

“IMServ is one of the few licensed data aggregators in the UK and has an excellent reputation and a detailed knowledge of energy management which is what attracted us to the company. We have now been working with them for over five years.”

“AMR allows us to track accurately our energy data right down to our smallest site. For example, we operate over 70 household recycle waste centres on behalf of local authorities and some of these are very small, it might just be the lighting on site, but we still needed to know what energy we were using.”

“Smart meters have provided us with accurate Real Time information on how much gas and electricity is being used. This eliminates estimated billing issues but more importantly lets us make informed decisions about our energy usage. We can see in Real Time just how much energy we are using.”

Changes that make an impact

“This has helped us identify areas where we can make savings,” explains Andrew. “In some cases this has resulted in infrastructure changes and in other locations process modifications, for example, the introduction of energy efficient LED lighting, voltage optimisation, power factor corrections and energy efficient motors and drives.”

The company has also developed an energy management database and rolled out energy smart meters covering more than 95% of UK operations. This database will be utilised to drive and monitor energy efficiency initiatives.

Andrew concluded, “AMR data has been critical in helping us produce a robust and verifiable carbon footprint and IMServ’s AMR and data collection services has been a key component of this. Our carbon footprint reduced by almost 5% in 2011/12 even with the sustained business revenue growth.”