Solar power the future for sustainable agribusiness

Agriculture is an energy-hungry business. From industrial processing facilities to temperature-controlled storage, food production can be a drain on the grid – and the electricity budget.

But solar is an easy way to generate power sustainably. As well as providing a reliable source of energy, it can also help protect a business against the rising cost of electricity.

Here are three agribusinesses heroes who made the switch to solar and are saving thousands of dollars a year.

Dramatically slash your power bills like Hussey & Co

Hussey & Co is a lettuce farm on the Mornington Peninsula that delivers quality produce across Australia and overseas. With multiple sheds and industrial processing facilities spread amongst 74 acres of land, it relies heavily on energy usage to stay in business.

Before installing solar, the farm’s electricity bills were paralysingly high. Their increasing costs posed a significant threat to their ability to match the prices of other agribusiness competitors.

But after initially installing a 99.64kW roof-mounted system, the farm were set to cut their power bills by $14,000 a year. Hussey & Co were so impressed, immediately installed a second, 505kW ground-mounted system.

The combined solar upgrades are saving them over $86,000 a year in electricity costs. In the same timeframe, it also cuts 754 tonnes of carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking 161 cars off the road.

Be innovative and progressive like Integrity Fruit

Integrity Fruit (fruit processing facility)

The storing, processing, and cleaning of fruit takes a lot of energy and water – which, unfortunately for Integrity Fruit in the Goulburn Valley, means high power bills.

With tight profit margins and high labour costs in mind, orchardist Peter Hall looked to other areas of the business for improvement. He quickly realised that solar energy would help them stay competitive.

“We started looking at alternative energy sources primarily because of the cost of electricity, and secondly because everyone has a concern about the environment and what sustainability means,” he said.

Although Peter was initially concerned whether the arrangement would be commercially competitive, he now has no regrets.

“The Environmental Upgrade Agreement opened the door to another way to fund projects,” he said. “It gives staff the sense that we are progressive; that they’re working for a company that’s innovative. It’s good for people, for our region, for the environment and the world.”

Feel confident in the future like Minogue Dairy Farm

Minogue Dairy Farm

With agribusiness relying so heavily on energy, the last thing farmers need is a power outage.

Unfortunately, this was the case for Kevin Minogue from Minogue Dairy Farm in Shepparton. In November 2017, a blackout led to a six week loss of production, when milking was at its peak. To make matters worse, the livestock experienced health issues associated with the inability to milk them.

Kevin used the blackout to rethink how the dairy farm could overcome power outages in the future and decided to look into solar energy and battery storage. Not only would this provide a battery back-up should an outage occur, but it would also provide cost savings to the business over time.

With financial impact to the business his biggest concern, Kevin was delighted to find that, after installing the new solar system and battery storage, the farm is 90% self-sufficient.

Kevin now feels confident in the future, no longer needing to worry about significant disruptions to business operations

Keep your loan payments low like Larkman Nurseries

Like Kevin, Clive Larkman wanted to safeguard his business from power outages.

Larkman Nurseries in Lilydale produces roughly 1.5 million plants every year. With power outages risking a huge stock loss, Clive wanted a backup plan.

After successfully installing 24 solar panels six years ago, Clive wanted to generate more solar power to support his new state-of-the-art propagation facility. He opted for an additional 39 solar panels and a battery system to keep the business running green – even when the power goes out.

Rather than using cash or approaching a bank for a loan, Clive decided to use Environmental Upgrade Finance as it was simple and easy. Repayments are made through local council rates with no upfront cash or capital required.

“It was a low interest rate spread over a long period of time, so the payments were low,” he said.

Larkman Nurseries now save $5,177 a year in electricity bills, and their combined upgrades will reduce their carbon emissions by 509 tonnes over the life of the project – the equivalent of taking 110 cars off the road.

Solar and building upgrades: save money and reduce your emissions

If you’re interested in cutting production costs, solar and building upgrades can be an easy way to put cash back into your business. Our clients save an average of $37,123 off their energy bill each year.

By using our finance, you don’t need any cash or capital up front, and projects are designed to be cashflow positive. That means the system pays for itself from the very first year.

Our finance isn’t just for solar. We can finance any upgrade that improves building efficiency or reduces waste. We’ve had clients upgrade their lighting to LEDs, replace their heating and air conditioning systems, remove asbestos, improve building insulation, and more.

If you’re thinking of upgrading your building, talk to us today about how we’ve helped hundreds of businesses drive sustainable growth.

 

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