Australia’s wineries go green using solar energy

Australia’s wineries go green using solar energy

More Australian wineries are turning to the sun, making the switch to solar power to help in wine production. Driven by rising costs of electricity from non-renewable sources, lower costs of solar power installation, and the potential benefits of producing own power, many wineries haven taken the bold step of investing in more renewable sources. By utilising solar energy for growing grapes and producing wines, wineries in Australia can both save on major costs and reduce their overall carbon footprint.

Photo by Mariana Proença on Unsplash

Electricity is the biggest expense in wine production

For most wineries in Australia, electricity is their largest expense item in the production of their wines. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) estimates that around 40% of expenditures of wineries go towards electricity, whilst the South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA) says that refrigeration eats up 50-70% of total power costs. Thus, it is no surprise that vineyards look for ways to reduce energy expenses.

Investing in renewable sources makes sense that will drive electricity expenditures down, lower overhead costs, and improve margins. For producers of quality Australian red wines, solar power not only reduces energy costs, but also maximises commercial roof space and reaffirms their commitment to a lower carbon footprint.

Incentive to attract investments in solar power

Solar power adoption surged in Australia in 2008, and even though costs of materials and installation were high, government incentives were also widely available until 2011. Between 2011-14, the prices of solar systems fell. From 2014 to present, there is relative stability in the solar system industry. Photovoltaic (PV) system prices are down significantly and there are existing incentive schemes for solar panels and batteries that are offered at state level, making investments in the area still attractive.

For 2020, interest-free loans up to $9,000 for a solar battery and $14,000 for a solar PV and battery storage system for households with an annual income of $180,000 or less are available. Under the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme, both households and smalls business in Australia that install small-scale renewable energy systems may be eligible for assistance to help with the purchase cost. Eligible participants may be entitled to small-scale technology certificates which can be sold to recoup a part of the purchase and installation cost.

Wineries adopt renewable power sources

An independent report produced by AgEconPlus revealed a 13% increase in the economic contribution of the wine industry since 2015 or an increase of roughly 3% per year. Strong wine exports are largely responsible for recovery in the wine sector. But, the competition is tough and the over 2,000 wineries in Australia have to stay competitive.

In fact, wineries were some of the earliest adopters of solar energy, with dozens in South Australia harnessing solar energy for wine production. Some wineries that have in excess of 100kW solar systems include D’Arenberg, Wirra Wirra, Sidewood, and Peter Lehmann. Recently, Pernod Ricard has become the first large wine company in the country to achieve 100% renewable electricity with the completion of Australia’s biggest combined winery solar installation. According to the winery’s chief operations officer, Brett McKinnon, “being sustainable and responsible is an important part of their business and they want to reduce their impact on the communities where they operate”.

Australian wineries recognise the opportunities to tap into solar energy and enjoy the cost-saving and environmental benefits. Using renewable sources not only lowers electricity costs, but also fulfils a company’s global-minded goals.

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Redflow – ZBM2 Microgrid in Tasmania for Hackett

Redflow CEO Simon Hackett has shifted his Tasmanian sheep and cattle farm to a new power source – a 100kW ground mounted solar microgrid using 27 Redflow ZBM2 batteries. Nice to see the bosses eating their own dog food. Let’s take a look at the project and what their future plans are for it.

Redflow – ZBM2 Microgrid in Tasmania for Hackett

Hackett, the owner of Redflow,  will use an initial deployment of 27 ZBM2 batteries, storing as much as 270 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy, interfaced to a large fault-tolerant cluster of 12 x Victron Quattro 48/15000 inverter/chargers.

Simon Hackett at his Tasmanian farm (source: Redflow)
Simon Hackett at his Tasmanian farm (source: Redflow)

 

“The project, with an overall budget of around $1 million, will include the building of a new site-wide microgrid. This will use new underground power interconnects to link seven distinct buildings across the whole property,” Hackett said in a statement. He went on to discuss the existing situation at the sheep and cattle farm he owns:

“We already have a Tesla Model S at the property and we plan to progressively replace our existing fleet of diesel farm ATVs, utes, and tractors with electric versions as soon they become available,” he said.

“We read with interest earlier this year that Toyota is committed to making electric HiLux 4WD vehicles and we would love to take delivery of the first of those to reach Australian shores.

Hackett explained that the Microgrid has myriad future plans and will be scalable:

“We can and will add more renewable energy generation using solar and/or wind if required in the future. Even after the full replacement of diesel vehicles with electric ones, we expect the property to be a net exporter of electrical energy to the Tasmanian grid,” he said.

Lastly, Hackett is very optimistic (mind you, he’d want to be) about the installation – we’re very interested to see some figures on how much it saves:

“I am convinced, based on my deep experience with Redflow, that ZBM2 batteries at the core of this energy system can deliver the hardworking energy storage and longevity to make this investment pay off over the long term,” he said in comments made last week.

Click here to read the original press release on Redflow’s website, entitled ‘Redflow receives order for ZBM2 batteries to power rural microgrid in North West Tasmania’.

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Tesla in Townsville – Bohle Plains’ 4MW solar battery.

Tesla in Townsville – Solar giant Tesla will install a 4MW/8MWh solar battery in Townsville, North Queensland to help manage renewable energy within the community. The battery is expected to be operational by the end of 2019.

Tesla in Townsville – Bohle Plains’ 4MW solar battery.

A community-scale battery will be installed in Townsville to help store excess energy, provide backup power to the community, and assist in providing support to Ergon’s virtual power plant, which draws electricity or reduces load from customers Queensland wide. This helps shore up any supply issues to the National Energy Market (NEM), especially during peak times such as during a heatwave.

Publicly owned Yurika manage the plant and it’ll be fascinating to see some statistics as to how this Tesla Powerpack helps QLD – with the South Australian Tesla Battery at the Hornsdale Power Reserve saving $25m in its first year of operation, we expect the result to be similarly impressive. 

Tesla in Townsville (Powerpack) (source: Tesla.com)
Tesla in Townsville (Powerpack) (source: Tesla.com)

“This is a small but significant addition to Queensland’s publicly-owned electricity system, a system which is delivering cheaper prices on average compared to other mainland states in the National Energy Market,” said Acting Energy Minister Mark Furner.

“Battery storage technology is the next stage in steady progress to enabling a renewable energy future and reaching our target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.”

“With around 20,000 residential rooftop solar systems in Townsville, battery storage technology will help ensure power quality and reliability in the local network.” he continued in quotes repeated in Clean Technica

Design work has already started on the battery and Tesla in Townsville is closer than you may think – the battery is scheduled to be fully operational in late 2019. Given that Townsville and its surrounding areas have seen a significant amount of investment in solar over the past few years, it’s going to be fantastic to have this battery to help stabilise the grid and provide cheaper power.

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Power Ledger Community Advocate Issue – Spruiking

‘Advocates’ for the Australian blockchain-based electricity trading company Power Ledger have been accused of spruiking the service through the ‘Power Ledger Community Advocate’ program.

Power Ledger Community Advocate ‘Spruiking’

According to an article in the Australian Financial Review, the ‘community advocates’ acted like ‘bounty hunters’ to spread the word of Power Ledger – with some of them making false or overemphasised claims. Some of the investors (who would be rewarded with free POWR tokens as a reward for spreading the good word) were saying things like Elon Musk was involved, and that the project will ‘revolutionise the retain electricity industry’.  Whilst this isn’t PL per se doing the spruiking, their community advocates are a measure of their brand and it’s important that they check what some of them are doing online:

“Some of our bounty group were professional bounty hunters chasing tokens because it’s what they do,” Power Ledger said in a blog post quoted on Medium.

“Some were bots reporting an astounding 5000 likes of our social media output in a single 24-hour period.”

Jemma Green Power Ledger Community Advocate
Jemma Green, CEO Power Ledger Community Advocate Furore (source: AFR.com via Power Ledger)

CEO Dr. Jemma Green discussed the energy trading platform’s 2018 progress in a podcast episode with Laura Shin:

“This year was really about us deploying our products in multiple locations around the world so we could see where was the biggest opportunity for us to scale and commercialise our technology,” Dr Green said.

Power Ledger’s price has been in decline since its $1.79 USD peak back in last December. At time of publishing, the POWR share price was $0.085102 USD as per the CoinMarketCap website. This is a 90% drop in value over the past 12 months. Fewer than 100 building are using the  trading system – we still have our fingers crossed for what is undoubtedly game-changing technology. 

Please note: Saving With Solar are in no way affiliated with Power Ledger and do not have any ‘community advocate’ relationship. 

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Ballarat Energy Storage System | Solar Storage in Victoria

The Ballarat Energy Storage System has been turned on by the Victorian Government today – let’s take a look at this unique battery and see how it will help shape Victoria’s energy future!

Ballarat Energy Storage System

The Ballarat Energy Storage System has 30MW capacity and can output 30MWh – it’s located at the Ballarat terminal station and is owned by Australian energy company Ausnet. The battery storage units are Fluence branded, and were installed by Spotless and Downer Group.

Ballarat Energy Storage System
Ballarat Battery Energy Storage System (source: spotless.com)

ARENA and the Victorian Government will jointly provide $25 million in funding for both this project and the Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS). The project (BESS) is expected to end up costing around $35m. 

Lily D’Ambrosio, the minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, made a statement about the Ballarat Energy Storage System discussing the Government’s plans for Australia’s renewable energy future:

“We said we would deliver these large-scale batteries for Victoria, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” she said.

“This is part of our plan to transition to a more affordable, reliable and clean energy system. We’re modernising our electricity grid, strengthening our energy security and delivering real action on climate change.”

According to RenewEconomy, the battery will be most useful in these three situations:

  1. It can help with congestion on Victoria’s transmission grid (especially as it’s installed at a network terminal rather than a wind or solar farm (which is the norm)). 
  2. It’ll help shore up the baseline load for Melbourne, especially during peak times when air conditioners and deconstructed latte machines are switched on en masse; and
  3. It’ll provide ‘key grid stability services’ like frequency control. 

Lastly, straight from the horses’s mouth:

The battery will store energy at times of relatively low value. The battery will use stored energy and use it at times of relatively high value. The project will also examine providing other grid services such as frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) and, should it be established under the electricity market rules, a Fast Frequency Response (FFR).

It’ll be fascinating to see how this works over the summer – we’ll, of course, also be keeping a close eye on the Tesla batteries at the Hornsdale Power Reserve to see if they’re able to continue delivering massive savings to the SA government. How long until the rest of the states follow suit? 

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