Customer Success Story

One of Victoria’s largest industrial solar power stations has been powered up

The Client

9mile apple packing and processing facility in South East Gippsland is one the most sophisticated operations of its type worldwide. The high tech sorting, grading and packing system processes 150,000 kilograms of apples each day that are supplied by 50 growers across Victoria and Tasmania.

SUMMARY

A 1.14 megawatt system made up of 2,850 solar panels was installed across 17,600 square meters of industrial roof space in Tynong, about 60 kilometres south east of the Melbourne CBD.

The recently commissioned system will generate about 1,574,512 kWh of electricity a year, reducing energy use by about one-third and cutting about $350,000 for the company’s annual energy costs.

The project was financed by the Bank of Melbourne’s energy efficiency program, with support from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Key figures, facts, and stats

Nine Mile Fresh

Solar panels

Gross Roof area

Generating capacity

Energy bill savings

Greenhouse gas emission savings

Solar panels

2,850
(1.140MW)

Gross Roof area

17,600 m2

Generating capacity

1,574,512 kWh
pa

Energy bill savings

~$350,000
(30 %)

Greenhouse gas emission savings

1,600 tCO2-e

Project details

Large megawatt-sized generator powered up

One of Victoria’s largest industrial solar power stations has been powered up at the high tech Nine Mile Fresh apple processing and packing facility in South East Gippsland, helping to cut onsite energy use by one-third and making a large dent in the food processor’s spiraling energy bills.

It is one of several large megawatt-sized solar generators to be powered up over the past seven months that service large commercial and industrial businesses surrounding Melbourne.

The high tech sorting, grading and packing system processes 150,000 kilograms of apples each day that are supplied by 50 growers across Victoria and Tasmania. It is one of the most sophisticated operations of its type worldwide.

The apples glide through 51 separate channels of bruise-free water as part of the grading and sorting system. It means more fruit can be processed but it uses a lot of power – 5,700 megawatt hours each year, or the same amount used by 1,000 typical Victorian homes.

Clean, emissions-free electricity at a lower price

Verdia CEO Paul Peters said the solar installation would provide clean, emissions free electricity, at a lower price than power sourced from the grid.

“The system will pay for itself in just under six years and then provide a third of on-site electricity for free,” Mr Peters said.

“So it stacks up financially. It will also help cut energy use by one third and greenhouse gas emissions by 1,600 tonnes each year, so there’s a large environmental benefit there too.

“Energy from the sun is helping to grow the apples and its now being harvested to sort and pack them off to the supermarket shelves throughout the east coast.”

The Nine Mile Fresh project is part of an estimated 68 megawatts of behind the meter solar PV systems being developed and installed by Verdia across Australia. This covers the retail property, manufacturing, agribusiness, education, health and aged care sector.

Nine Mile Fresh Director James Ryan said…

Competing needs for capital, a lack of specialist resources and the risk of choosing poor quality vendors prevented Nine Mile Fresh from managing the program itself.

Nine Mile Fresh Director James Ryan said by outsourcing the financial and technical management, the business could remove much of the risk from delivering the program in house.

“Ultimately, it meant we could see the financial benefits sooner and hedge against future price shocks for a large portion of our electricity use,” Mr Ryan said.

“We spend more than one million dollars on electricity, so it’s a significant outlay and an obvious area where we can be more efficient and reduce our operating costs.

“It is also becoming much more important for consumers and retailers to choose a product that has a lower environmental footprint. Reducing our energy use and emissions and improving our sustainability helps achieve that.”

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