Renewables

Energy transition for SMEs – Tuzla-based meat company Menprom leads the way in smart green planning

energy-transition-champion-menprom-solar-power-plant

Photo: Menprom

Published

October 17, 2022

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Published:

October 17, 2022

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Amid the energy crisis and unprecedented price hikes, the economies in the region, especially small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), are faced with great challenges. The inevitability of the energy transition and decarbonization, and the need to become energy efficient and remain competitive, has plunged them into a battle where the current political and economic circumstances will not be their allies and where the state’s systemic support is missing.

The story of the energy transition of meat company Menprom from Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which we present as part the series Energy transition champions in the Western Balkans, is an example of good practice and a beacon of smart energy management, business growth, prudent practices, and environmental and social responsibility.

Highly inefficient in their energy use, consuming several times more energy compared to the EU average, SMEs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as other countries in the region, are ripe for major changes and improvements in energy management.

Experts agree that well-managed energy streams at SMEs could reduce consumption by an estimated 20-30%.

Well-managed energy streams at SMEs could reduce consumption by 20-30%

With the onset of the energy crisis and rising energy prices, coupled with the targets accepted by countries in the region for greenhouse gas reductions and the Green Agenda implementation, it is clear that work on improving energy efficiency and decarbonizing its business has become a priority for any SME that strives to be competitive and profitable.

Moreover, a responsible attitude to the environment and the local community is becoming an increasingly important part of doing business, and meat company Menprom is proof of that.

Menprom, established in 1990, produces superior deli meats from highest-quality chicken, beef, and turkey, making it one of the leading meatpacking companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Merima-Dzevdetbegovic-Menprom

Merima Dževdetbegović, deputy CEO of Menprom

“Menprom’s strategic orientation towards renewable energy sources is the result of a great awareness of the importance of one’s own contribution to mitigating climate change. Praises from customers, local partners, and members of the local community, as well as their support when we installed a solar power plant, came as a pleasant surprise that put an additional wind in our sails,” Merima Dževdetbegović, the company’s deputy CEO, says in an interview with Balkan Green Energy News. Merima is a member of the Management Board of Menprom and, together with her father, who founded the company, and her younger sister and brother, has been running the business successfully for 24 years. Menprom is growing continuously, selling its products in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also in foreign markets.

Experience with SMEs should be translated into policies of official and systemic state support

Menprom is among 20 companies taking part in one of the best energy transition projects in the Western Balkans at the moment – Energy transition in the industry of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The project is implemented by the Regional Center for Sustainable Energy Transition (RESET) with the help of Sweden.

RESET’s team of experts is helping businesses from Bosnia and Herzegovina to introduce energy management as a sustainable mechanism for improving energy efficiency, consumption monitoring, and renewable energy use.

According Damir Kapidžić, one of the experts working on the project and a certified energy auditor and energy manager, RESET tests, improves, and adapts the most cost-effective measures for improving energy efficiency in the small and medium business sector, as part of the overall decarbonization and greening process.

Professor Kušljugić: energy management, energy efficiency measures, and green energy strengthen BiH’s entire economy

At the end of the project, this think-and-do tank (a group of top experts who act as well as think), as they like to call themselves, will recommend policies to be included in the state’s official and systemic support to SMEs in BiH in the energy transition process.

Professor Mirza Kušljugić, an energy expert and one of the RESET founders, says that energy management, energy efficiency measures, and green energy not only help small and medium businesses, but also strengthen the entire economy of BiH.

“With this project, RESET continues its mission to convey the message to businesspeople, citizens, and decision-makers in the region that an energy transition carried out in an organized way would be an opportunity for development, while an unmanaged one would bring about new shocks,” says Professor Kušljugić.

Multidisciplinary team for a smart energy transition

The Tuzla-based meat company, according to Merima Dževdetbegović, embarked on the energy transition process in 2019, when it set up a multidisciplinary team tasked with looking at development needs and opportunities. The management’s ambitions coincided with RESET’s cooperation project with manufacturing firms in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

multidisciplinary-team-menprom-meatpacker

Menprom’s multidisciplinary team, formed in 2019, is working hard to identify development needs and opportunities

Following an energy audit, the company identified possible measures to improve energy efficiency and apply green technologies. Based on prepared conceptual designs, Menprom opted for several smaller measures and three bigger projects: replacing pellets with heat pumps in heating and part of the cooling system, recovering waste heat from meat cooling chambers to be used for sanitary water heating, and installing a solar power plant.

Financing from own funds, but also subsidies

Apart from Menprom’s decision to improve the management of its energy needs, an important part of the process was to monitor and identify tenders and public invitations from both national institutions and international financial institutions, which offered co-financing for businesses to implement green technologies and improve energy efficiency.

In this way, Menprom received assistance from the Tuzla Canton’s Ministry of Spatial Planning and Environmental Protection for a EUR 26,000 project to install heat pumps, of 35 kW for heating and 29 kW for cooling, while the Environmental Protection Fund of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina helped the company implement a EUR 22,000 waste heat recovery project.

Solar power plant – the jewel in the crown of Menprom’s energy transition

As the crowning achievement of Menprom’s work on improving its energy management, a 445 kW solar power plant was put in operation in May this year, with solar panels installed on the administrative building and production facilities.

The solar power plant was built with the financial support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which provided a loan for the investment, as well as a grant for the interest and part of the principal.

The company estimates the solar power plant will pay off in seven years at the current, regulated electricity prices, and even sooner in case of further price hikes, which demonstrates how timely and well-thought out the investment decision was.

The green power plant is designed to cover up to 30% of the company’s annual electricity consumption.

Prudent business and care for the environment

“Before introducing heat pumps, we used pellets for heating and cooling. We are extremely happy and proud to see that our investment will enable us to achieve significant savings, because we previously used 15 tons of pellets per year,” Dževdetbegović says with pride.

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Dževdetbegović: Meatpacking is demanding in terms of energy and water consumption, so we’ve always sought ways to save

In addition to savings due to the high prices of pellets and electricity, Menprom has achieved other important benefits: increasing the energy efficiency of the heating and cooling system, completely avoiding ash and CO2 emissions from the combustion of pellets, and reducing the consumption of water and electricity for sanitary water heating.

Dževdetbegović: We’ve always been guided by the ideas of environmental protection and sustainable resource use

All this, as they say at Menprom, also benefits people in the local community.

Dževdetbegović says that at Menprom they have always been guided by the ideas of ​​environmental protection and sustainable resource use, and that they consider such an approach to business their duty.

“When you’re a family business, you have to take care of everything, and savings are the cornerstone of prudent business. Meatpacking is demanding in terms of energy and water consumption, so we’ve always sought ways to save water, energy, but also paper. Over the past period, we’ve implemented a large number of energy transition and energy efficiency projects, and we want to bring our business closer to the ideal of sustainable development and achieve our long-established goal of transforming Menprom into a leader in the implementation of solutions based on renewable energy sources. The 445kW solar power plant for self-consumption, along with a string of energy efficiency and other projects, is proof that today at Menprom we are no longer talking only about plans, but about projects that are real and under way,” says Dževdetbegović.

What is next for BiH’s energy transition champion?

Encouraged by the good results in the past three years, Menprom’s management is making plans for further steps. They are announcing an expansion of the solar power plant’s capacity, but also the intention to take an active role in METI, a network of SMEs for the energy transition, whose members will exchange experiences, information, and know-how in energy management.

energy-transition-champion-menprom

Menprom uses heat pumps for heating and cooling the administrative building and production facilities

In its energy transition efforts, Menprom also had significant support from Damir Kapidžić. He is their external associate and energy manager, and they share him with other companies which do not need a full-time energy manager, but which have a clear need for his expertise.

With energy transition measures, Menprom has achieved numerous benefits for itself, the local community where it operates, and other firms as well

The concept of “shared energy manager” was also born out of this project. Along with the introduction of regular energy audits and energy management in line with the ISO 50001 Light system, this type of support has proved to be critical for all SMEs in BiH which have yet to take their first steps in the energy transition process.

“Menprom is an ideal example, if there is such a thing, of what RESET wanted to achieve with its project. But it is also an example of how a vision of environmental protection and sustainable resource use helped a family-owned firm, supported by experts, to implement the energy transition, while at the same time achieving numerous benefits for itself, the local community where its operates, and other firms as well,” says Kapidžić.

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