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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XXXX Beer and Commercial Solar

A rooftop solar system has been installed at the Castlemaine Perkins brewery in Milton, Brisbane. The XXXX brewery is a local institution and to think that it’ll now be brewed by using renewable power will make it taste even more sweet! Or bitter. I’m not sure of the correct parlance. Anyway. Solar powered milton mangoes. Let’s learn more!

XXXX Beer and Commercial Solar

XXXX Beer and Commercial Solar
XXXX Beer and Commercial Solar (source: lionco.com)

The iconic XXXX brewery has become the latest private company to install commercial solar. Given the price considerations are dropping as the electricity prices remain volatile, more and more companies are taking the leap and investing in commercial solar systems.

A posting on the official Lion website notes that the $2m project has been completed and the 690-kilowatt system will generate approximately 1,368,000 kilowatt hours every year.

“This will reduce the site’s annual carbon emissions by about 1260 tonnes, which is about seven per cent of CO2 emissions from electricity used at XXXX,” Lion’s Group Supply Chain Director Ian Roberts (sadly not the footy player) said.

“We are committed to reducing our environmental footprint and being a good neighbour to the many residents and businesses that call Milton home.

“And we will keep the big yellow wheel in place on Milton Road just as a reminder of how far we’ve come. It is change like this that has allowed us to preserve the brewery’s rich history and keep making Queensland’s favourite beer. This is something everyone at XXXX is very proud of.  In addition to the solar power system, we have also installed a state-of-the-art reverse osmosis plant which reuses waste water – enabling XXXX Gold to be produced at a ratio of 2.8 litres of water for every litre of beer produced, which is approaching world-leading levels of efficiency for brewing,” Mr Roberts continued.

I don’t actually know what the big yellow wheel is, but I’ve reached out to Lion. Sounds mildly interesting. Watch this space! 

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Solar Energy Jobs double in 17-18 FY

Solar energy jobs in Australia received a huge boost in the 17-18 financial year according to statistics from the ABS. The amount of jobs in this sector double from the previous year. 

Solar Energy Jobs in Australia

With the explosion of solar power in Australia, solar jobs have also seen a drastic uptick – according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) the number of full time jobs in the renewable energy sector rose by 28% in 17/18. A whopping 46% of this represents rooftop solar – the total of 17,740 full time jobs is up a whopping 60% from 15-16 numbers.

Solar Energy Jobs in Australia (source: @ahsan19 via Unsplash.com)
Solar Energy Jobs in Australia (source: @ahsan19 via Unsplash.com)

“Factors contributing to the growth in renewable energy uptake in Australia include a reduction in costs, greater interest in clean energy sources and the development of electricity storage technologies,” Jonathon Khoo from the ABS said in comments published on the SBS website.

“Although this has led to a boost in employment in the renewable energy sector, employment in renewable energy remains comparatively small compared with other forms of energy which employs around 59,000 people.”

“We saw large scale solar projects – systems with an installed capacity of 100 kilowatts or greater – overtake hydroelectric power to become the second-largest creator of renewable jobs” Mr Khoo continued. 

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Simon Currie from Renew Estate – he discussed the ramifications for solar employees and those looking to get involved in this rapidly growing industry:

“Projects like Bomen – in Wagga Wagga – are showing the way for the future, by using localised labour, and it paves the way for how the renewable workforce is used in the future,” Mr Currie said.

Solar farm jobs rose steadily from 930 in 2016-17 to 2880 last year, beating hydro’s 2020 jobs and the 1890 employees working at wind farms.  Around 1 in 4 homes which are suitable for solar power have it installed, so there’s still plenty of room to move. We also have energy storage to keep an eye on! 

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Daintree microgrid project | Hydrogen

The Daintree microgrid project has been funded almost $1m by the federal government. It’s set to become Australia’s first solar to hydrogen microgrid and will replace reliance on an expensive and polluting diesel system. Let’s learn more about it! 

Daintree microgrid project

Daintree Microgrid Project (source: Killerscene via Wikipedia)
Daintree Microgrid Project (source: Killerscene via Wikipedia)

The grant amount is $990,150 which will go to the Daintree Renewable Energy Pty Ltd company, as per an article in Energy Magazine, which also noted that the fund will complement the AEMO’s review of microgrids and the regulatory bodies which will govern them, created by the government in August of last year.

Russell O’Doherty, president of Daintree Renewable Energy, was quoted in an interview with Newsport:

“This power will be used to help power the hydrogen cell; the hydrogen gas produced will be collected and stored and used to fuel large scale generators. The only by product of this system is hot water,” he said.

“This is absolutely fantastic news for the environmentally-conscious Daintree community,” Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch also weighed in:

“Far North Queenslanders, especially those living in the Daintree, are extremely passionate about their natural environment and this announcement is a big win for the entire region.”

“The proposed microgrid will store energy generated by new and existing solar panels by converting it to hydrogen, generating reliable power and reducing the World Heritage Area’s reliance on diesel fuel to generate power, with consumption currently estimated at around 4 million litres of diesel per annum,” Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said.

However it’s not all peachy in the Daintree – the Douglas Shire Sustainability Group is clashing with Daintree Renewable Energy with regards to reticulated power north of Daintree. According to PV Magazine Australia, the DSSG is concerned the renewable project could result in long term damage to the world heritage environment and to tourism. You can learn more about that by clicking here. Watch this space to see what happens there, but surely moving from diesel to solar is a no brainer! 

 

 

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Bundaberg is the rooftop solar capital of Australia.

A press release from the Queensland Government notes that Bundaberg is now the rooftop solar capital of Australia. Let’s read more into solar power in north Queensland.

Bundaberg is the rooftop solar capital of Australia.

On the back of the Clean Energy Council report released today, Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham praised Queensland for its rapid update in solar power compared to the rest of Australia:

 “Queensland fills six of the top 10 rooftop solar postcodes in Australia, by number of installations.

“And sitting at the top is Bundaberg with 12,620 installations with a capacity of 47,500kW.

“In fact, Queensland has four of the top five places with Hervey Bay at No 3, Caloundra at No 4 and Toowoomba at No 5,’’ Dr Lynham said.

Queensland’s $2b Affordable Energy Plan means that the state now has the lowest ‘typical’ household power bill of the mainland states, according to a separate press release on Dr Lynham’s site.

North Queensland solar is going really well at the moment, with the government trialling grants for landlords to install solar in Bundaberg, Gladstone and Townsville.

“Bundaberg people are embracing the financial and environmental benefits of solar,’’ Dr Lynham said.

“Queensland is leading the way on renewables as the Palaszczuk Government heads towards its target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

“Palaszczuk Government initiatives, encouraging the take-up of rooftop solar and batteries and creating an environment that has been embraced by the solar industry across the state, particularly in regional areas, is paying dividends across-the-board for Queenslanders.

“In Bundaberg seven applications for the Queensland Government’s solar-only loan package have been approved  and a further 35 applications for battery assistance packages also have been approved.’’ Dr Lynham continued.

Dr Anthony Lynham - Bundaberg the rooftop solar capital of Australia
Dr Anthony Lynham – Bundaberg the “rooftop solar capital of Australia” (source: Wikipedia)

Media enquiries: David Potter 0428 411 617

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