Once the solar feed-in tariff ends in December 2016, NSW Central Tablelands vineyard Jarrett’s Wines will need to redeploy the power generated by its solar PV arrays. With help from NSW Farmers’ Energy team, they're looking to invest in solar battery storage, electric vehicles, integrated pumps and a new coolroom, potentially saving the business $10,000-$40,000 p.a.
Justin and Pip Jarrett run Jarrett’s Wines, a vineyard west of Orange, New South Wales. The property grows a variety of horticultural crops and was once an egg farm. The farm incorporates three different properties at altitudes ranging from 700 to 900m above sea level. The Jarretts specialise in wine grape varieties that flourish at these altitudes, including shiraz, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.
In addition to growing grapes, the Jarretts have two sheds with coolrooms to store wine. Some of this wine is produced on the Jarretts’ farm; however, much of it is shipped in from other local vineyards before being distributed to retail outlets and online customers.
The Jarretts are looking to expand their wine production and to promote their brand as a boutique wine label. They’re also keen to redesign their coolrooms to be more functional and energy-efficient.
An eco-friendly, energy-efficient operation
In the world of wine, labels need to distinguish themselves in a sea of competing brands. Justin and Pip want to run their business and market their label as ‘carbon-negative’ – meaning that both the means of production and the resulting product remove carbon from the surrounding area.
To this end, the Jarretts are working on reducing their existing energy needs through efficiency and upgrades, and supplying whatever they can through renewables.
The Jarretts do some creative cross-cropping and use natural fertilisers to ensure the soil in their vineyards is healthy and has higher-than-average carbon levels, which in turn helps that soil retain moisture and reduces their irrigation needs.
They also took advantage of the ‘solar bonus scheme’ to install four 10kW solar arrays on their three properties that currently generate revenues through the feed-in-tariff of $0.60/kWh. However, when the solar feed-in tariff ends on 31 December 2016, the Jarretts will lose that source of income and plan to redeploy the power generated
Cost reduction opportunities
In consultation with NSW Farmers’ Energy Innovation Program, Justin and Pip Jarrett explored various areas in which energy efficiencies might be made in their business. A total of 11 energy savings opportunities were identified with the potential to save the Jarretts more than $10,000 in energy costs; of these, they have prioritised five:
- hybrid power for pumping water to dams and drip-feed irrigators;
- energy storage for general use around the farm, including electric vehicles;
- a refrigeration upgrade for the coolrooml
- correct tractor setup and operationl
- redirecting the electricity generated by their solar PV panels to other uses on the property.
One major savings opportunity the Jarretts and NSW Farmers' Energy team identified was redirecting energy generated by their solar PV arrays to powering farm vehicles. Right now, the farm’s largest energy expenses are diesel-using pumps, tractors and other vehicles. They’re looking into electric forklifts and quad bikes, which could operate off solar electricity, greatly reducing the farm’s diesel and petrol costs and making ‘energy independence’ a reality.
There’s potential to invest in solar battery storage, which would enable the Jarretts to store solar energy generated by day for use 24-7 (to power the coolroom refrigeration, the homestead, battery-powered electric/hybrid vehicles and so on).
They’re also looking at installing an energy-efficient new coolroom to ensure their planned wine storage venture is profitable, rather than an energy and money drain; and at improved dam-pump maintenance that will ensure they’re not them thousands of dollars a year in ‘unseen’ wasted energy, and at integrated solar pumping that will save them an estimated $7K in diesel fuel costs a year.
Outcomes for the vineyard
Solar PV pumping, an upgraded refrigeration plant and better pump maintenance could save Jarrett’s Wines just under $10,000 a year in electricity and diesel savings, or 16% of the operation’s energy use.
The bigger prize will be the electrification of all farm vehicles after 31 December 2016, when the Jarretts are planning to redirect their solar-generated electricity from the grid to a bank of batteries. With this change, they’ll be able to power their vehicles.
Savings could be in the order of $30,000, or 40% of the business’s total energy bill (and perhaps 90% of its diesel fuel bill, depending on a large range of variables including number of days of sunshine, the technology available in two years’ time, battery sizes, et cetera).
Planning for the new world of energy storage
Justin, with the assistance of NSW Farmers’ Energy Innovation Program, will continue to explore energy-generation and energy-efficiency options that secure the future of his vineyard in Orange and increase the export potential of its wines, especially if the business’s ‘low-carbon’ story evolves. This story could be well received in European markets, where ‘green’ credentials are highly valued.
In the short term, as well as converting the existing diesel pump to an electric one powered by a solar PV array, Justin will begin monitoring the amount of electricity and water used by his submersible pump with a wireless meter (an example of which is shown in Figure 6, below).
In the medium term, the business case for upgrading the coolroom refrigeration will be developed and a decision made to invest in lowering operating costs and de-risking the wine storage venture.
Long-term opportunities include large savings from electrifying all or most farm vehicles, reducing energy costs by an estimated 40% or more. The cost savings could be as much as 100% if the investment in batteries capable of storing solar-generated energy for evening use and use on no-sun days can be justified.
NSW Farmers will be monitoring innovation in battery storage and releasing information to help inform these decisions as we get closer to December 2016.
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