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Energy efficient commercial kitchens with Flex-o-mat in Uppsala.

We are not waiting for the technology and have introduced new ways of working in up to 80 kitchens already.
- Anders Sundin, Uppsala Municipality

In Uppsala, power peaks in school kitchens are cut through new routines and smart technical solutions, which can save money in both existing commercial kitchens and in the planning for the construction of new schools.

By raising staff awareness and with power usage visualized in real time, kitchens can set targets and influence how much power is used. Staff can also plan power-smart meals in various forms of long cooking. Together with the technical solutions, there is great potential to both relieve the local electricity grid and save money.

Lower capacity requirements
Lower energy costs
Lower electricity consumption leads to lower costs

'New habits cost nothing - but make a big difference'

Every day at the same time, 45 000 lunches are prepared in Uppsala municipality. This means a huge load on the electricity grid as all the machines are running at the same time. Through Flex-o-mat - new routines and a smart technical solution - school kitchens save both energy and money. The concept was first tested in Uppsala municipality.

Anders Sundin, Meal Service, Uppsala Municipality.
Anders Sundin, Meal Service, Uppsala Municipality.

- We don't want to wait for the technology to be installed, now 300 cooks and meal assistants in 80 work according to a guide that we have produced," says Anders Sundin, Head of Meal Service, Uppsala Municipality.

The guide is called "Efficient behavior in commercial kitchens" and is now being disseminated to other actors and municipalities.

The Flex-o-Mat concept shows that it is possible to use the electricity grid much smarter. The tests carried out in some school kitchens in Uppsala municipality have now become the new normal. A key part of the concept is to create a change in behavior among employees and new ways of working in school kitchens, such as running the oven at half power, preparing food at night and not turning on all kitchen equipment at the same time.

In order for the new procedures to take hold, the municipality's kitchen managers, cooks and meal assistants are continuously monitored. Anders Sundin believes that it is important for management to show that the new way of working is being prioritized.

- There is nothing to stop this behavioral change, it costs nothing but makes a big difference. This should be done in all activities that require a large electrical output. Imagine turning on the streetlights a few at a time instead of all at once," says Anders Sundin.

In 2022, the concept was complemented by a technical solution that can be installed in newer kitchen appliances. It ensures that energy output is kept down regardless of staff behavior. Mikael Carstensen is CEO of the municipal company Skolfastigheter in Uppsala Municipality.

- There is now a directive that the technical solution should be installed in all school kitchens in Uppsala municipality within a few years. 'Because if you combine the two, it becomes even better,' he says.

Mikael Carstensen sees great benefits from the concept.

- The fixed electricity tariff is based on maximum power output, the more power we use, the higher the charge. So if we can reduce the power consumption, it will be cheaper. In new production, the cost of the connection to the electricity grid can be reduced, which means a significantly reduced connection fee and reduces the rent for the education administration," says Mikael Carstensen.

We use more electricity than ever, and the more we electrify, the more electricity we need. When many people use electricity at the same time, it causes power peaks, which can lead to capacity shortages. The grid becomes safer with a more even use of electricity throughout the day. Flex-o-mat reduces power peaks by up to 50%, and the concept also helps to reduce electricity consumption.

In Uppsala municipality, Skolfastigheter is responsible for the physical kitchens, while Måltidsservice is responsible for the staff in the kitchens. All parties cooperated during the project.

- It would be good if we had closer contact, for example, it would be nice to show the staff what effect their new habits have," says Anders Sundin from the Meal Service.

Flex-o-mat is a clear example of how the climate transition brings economic benefits, but also benefits from new ways of working, across the municipal organization.

There is great interest in the concept. The Flex-o-mat project was a collaborative project between Stuns (the Foundation for Collaboration between Universities in Uppsala, business and Society), Uppsala Municipality's meal service and the municipal company Skolfastigheter. Their lessons and working methods are now being introduced in several municipalities as the new normal, for example in Eskilstuna and Karlstad.

The project has also created a ripple effect within Uppsala municipality. In 2023, the concept will also be tested in other electricity-intensive businesses, in Uppsala's municipal sauna and in the emergency services' laundry.

The Flex-o-mat project is run by STUNS Energi together with Skolfastigheter and Måltidsservice in Uppsala municipality and CIT Energy Management and is financed by the Swedish Energy Agency.

Three tips for new habits in the kitchen

More on the Umeå Climate Roadmap

They have sneered and stolen

Flex-o-mat, both procedures and technology, was presented at Transition Lab Forum 10 and several of the municipalities in the Climate Neutral Cities 2030 initiative, and other municipalities, have copied the concept.

  • Karlstad municipality
  • Eskilstuna municipality
  • Växjö municipality
  • Lund municipality
  • Gävle (concert hall)
  • Arboga, Ronneby

Contact us

Therese Fernlund, project manager STUNS Energi, therese.fernlund@stuns.se

Climate neutral Uppsala 2030