In 2017, we upgraded a ventilation system at a seed potato storage facility near Gibbons, AB as a pilot project considering the most energy efficient ventilation technologies currently available.
The results of the project showed that energy assessments and ventilation upgrades at potato storages in Alberta can reduce fan energy consumption by 70%, improve potato quality, and provide a positive return on investment up to 13%-17% for many farms. Potato storages that should benefit the most from retrofit upgrades in Alberta would be farms with single-speed fans, or ventilation systems older than 5 years old.
The pilot project tested the replacement of single-phase 240VAC single-speed fans in two different ventilation plenums, with two different variable-speed fan technologies:
1. impellor fan blades with electronically commutated (EC) motors at “Bin23”, and
2. 4-blade propeller fans with phase-converting VFDs and 3ph motors at “Bin45”.
The table below shows a comparison of the “original” and “new” fan equipment installed.
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￼￼￼￼￼With 50% funding of equipment costs contributed by the Farm Energy and Agri-Processing Program (FEAP), the project would cost $58,684. The savings due to reduced energy consumption are estimated conservatively at $4,600 annually, resulting from a 70% reduction in fan energy consumption at the upgraded bins. Based on the pilot project results we expect similar ventilation system upgrades at Alberta potato storages to achieve payback in 7-9 years, with 13%-17% IRR over a 15-year economic life. The monthly power bills to date show savings over $6,000 in the first year (see the table below).
The following table shows a summary of the original (historical) monthly-billed power consumption, versus the new power consumption after the ventilation system retrofit upgrade.