Producing and (not) using smart energy

Being aware of how you handle energy is not only good for your energy bill, it also reduces your ecological footprint. That’s why at Colruyt Group, we limit our consumption as much as possible, and choose alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar. At the same time, we’re experimenting with new techniques such as storing energy in the form of hydrogen. The underlying goal? To build a smart electricity network which matches supply and demand to the maximum.

 Producing green energy

Our energy specialists at Eoly produce green energy in different ways:

In addition to these existing technologies, Eoly also promotes innovation, by storing energy in the form of hydrogen, for example.

On top of this, Colruyt Group is also investing in wind farms off the Belgian coast. The underlying goal is eventually to cover 100% of the group’s energy consumption using self-produced green power. Today, we’re already up to 25%.

Eoly wind turbine
Our wind turbines deliver self-produced green power directly to our distribution centres.

We’re building a smart energy network which matches supply to demand in an optimum fashion

Saving where possible

Nobody wants an expensive energy bill. And that includes us. “That’s why we’re closely monitoring the consumption by our buildings, machinery and vehicles. Because the most sustainable energy is the energy you don’t use,” says Sven Claes, energy coordinator at Eoly. “And we ask ourselves where and how we can save. We take the hourly energy rates into account and, where possible, shift our consumption to times when we can produce a lot of energy using wind and solar power. With this cost-conscious approach, we can spot the peaks, consume less and limit our costs.”

 Energy specialist checks consumption
Our energy specialists help us to shift consumption to times when there is a lot of sun and wind.

Match consumption to production

Going on holiday? Then you disconnect your TV from the wall socket. We actually do the same thing and so we know which devices we can shut down. And how often, and for how long. Not easy, because you can’t just switch off your conveyor belts or cold rooms. “However, we have already found some things we can optimise,” says Sven. “So we use our deep freezers as energy buffers. At times when there’s a lot of sustainable energy available, we cool them even further. This allows us to bridge times when there’s less energy available. The electric vehicles and pallet trucks in our distribution centres are another example. We charge them at night when it’s quiet and while our wind turbines keep turning. In addition, we also manage our non-essential users such as ventilation, refrigeration and lighting smartly.”

VIDEO: smart with wind and solar power - sustainable energy at Colruyt Group

Innovating with new technologies

Have you heard about our energy-efficient mobile refrigerated containers? These liquid ice containers transport fresh goods to our shops and are a great example of how we reduce our consumption and environmental impact through innovation. The mobile refrigerated containers were developed by our own engineers. They use liquid ice and have about 50% less impact on climate change than a classic refrigerated container.

New mobile refrigerated containers in a shop
Mobile refrigerated containers with liquid ice ensure lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Hydrogen: the solution for the future

The wind and sun have a great influence on the production of sustainable energy. On windy and sunny days, we generate a lot of energy through our wind turbines and solar panels. But on a windless night, nothing is generated.

“Happily, we can forecast the weather,” says Sven. “So we know how much electricity our wind turbines and solar panels will produce over the next few days. And with this information, we can use our surplus energy as a buffer, as hydrogen for example. At Eoly, we've been experimenting with storing energy in the form of hydrogen since 2012. It’s a green fuel that you can convert to electricity without combustion and with no CO2 or particulate emissions.”

 

 


With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Affordable and clean energy Industry, innovation & infrastructure Responsible consumption & production Climate action