Sector: Food & Beverage Manufacturing

Address: 40 Collins Rd, Dromana VIC 3936

Environmental Upgrade: 39.84 kW solar system

Energy savings: $9,724 per year, $244,682 over the life of the project

Sustainability: 52 tonnes of CO2 per year, 13,000 tonnes over the life of the project

 

For Bass & Flinders Distillery, minimising their environmental footprint and becoming more sustainable have long underpinned their work.

From using locally foraged botanicals in their products to evoke the taste of the Mornington Peninsula, to reducing waste from their excess ingredients, stepping up to solar was their next logical step.

 

Problem

Gin distilling is thirsty work, according to Director of Bass & Flinders, Holly Klintworth.

Initially, this small family business didn’t need much electricity to function. But in early 2020, the distillery invested in an electric – and power hungry – gin still.

“Even though we’re based within an industrial estate, our energy is limited,” Holly said. “I’ve been told that the power to our building is the equivalent of a normal home rather than a proper commercial building. When we finally got our gin still up and running, we had to adjust some of our other equipment – like fridges and aircons – so we weren’t dropping out.”

She added that switching to solar panels was a “no brainer”, to help protect their power supply. And in terms of the business’ values, it was also the next logical step in their sustainability journey.

“We’re always looking for ways to reduce our environmental footprint,” she said. “Everything we do is about trying to be as green as possible; we only use paper straws in the bar and try to consolidate orders so we’re not using too much transportation.

“There’s lots of little things that we do, but solar is the first big-picture step that we’ve taken.”

 

Solution

With summer fast approaching, the team at Bass & Flinders decided that the sooner they switch to solar energy, the better.

“In those months, we’re open every day serving up cocktails, tastings and running Gin Masterclasses,” Holly said. “But while we were running the gin still, we had to closely manage our power usage right down to the aircons and refrigeration units being run. The worry that we were going to have to manage all of that right on the edge of tripping the power whilst also being open to the public was enough to make us switch.

“It made sense to go to solar just to take that pressure off.”

 

Process

The team discovered Sustainable Australia Fund through the Entrepreneur’s Program run through the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, where such information and opportunities are shared with SMEs as a way to help them improve their businesses and grow.

Leigh Powell, Adviser to the Bass & Flinders board, said our flexible loan and repayment structures were what finally sealed the deal.

“Sustainable Australia Fund have loan terms that are longer than green loans and repayments attached to quarterly rates rather than a full credit application process, which is why we went with them,” he said.

“If it wasn’t for having options with loan terms and repayments, it would have been a challenge for our small family business – especially during Covid times,” Holly said. “It really enabled us to make a decision to get it funded and installed, all within a matter of months. Without that financial support, the whole process probably would have taken a lot longer.”

Enabled by Mornington Peninsula Shire, Bass & Flinders enlisted Dunton Group Solar and Electrical to design and install a 39.84 kW solar system. It’s set to reduce their carbon emissions by 52 tonnes a year – the equivalent of taking 11 cars off the road – and 13,000 tonnes over the life of the project – the equivalent of over 150 homes’ annual energy use.

Dunton Group advises that any business that has significant electricity consumption during daylight hours should consider implementing solar to reduce their power bills and carbon footprint.

“With government and council financial support, it’s never been a better time to install solar and start saving.”

 

Outcome

Businesses who use Environmental Upgrade Finance to fund their projects own their new assets from day one. Holly has already noticed the solar panels working their magic on the Distillery’s electricity bills.

“We’ve already seen a bit of a dip,” she said. “We’re estimated to save $9,724 per year, and $244,682 over the life of the project, so I’m looking forward to seeing the full impact of that.”

The solar panels have quickly worked their way into the brand’s personality, with the fact that Bass & Flinders gin is now ‘powered by the sun’ being actively marketed to gin lovers and connoisseurs alike.

“We have a TV screen set up at our distillery door where there’s a beautiful graph and you can see, in real time, exactly what’s being powered by the sun” Holly said. “When people walk into our bar it’s one of the first things they see, and it shows that we’re serious about sustainability and that we care about reducing our footprint. There’s a really educated and informed consumer marketplace out there now, and we’re seeing a trend towards greater support for businesses that care about being sustainable.”

And it’s not just consumers that are invested in reducing their footprints. Cr Anthony Marsh, Mayor of Mornington Peninsula Shire, said the community at large have taken to Environmental Upgrade Finance, with local businesses installing 1,153 kW of solar within five years.

“Our community has told us loud and clear that it cares deeply about climate change,” he said. “There is a real appetite here for reducing emissions and living more sustainably. Businesses have seen immediate benefits in terms of reduced energy bills, and our community as a whole has been able to reduce its carbon footprint.”

For other energy-hungry businesses, Holly believes that switching to solar is a no-brainer.

“As long as we manage the time that the sun is coming down full belt, we can have minimal drawdown of a traditional power source, if at all – especially during the summer months. That’s great for cost-saving and sustainability.”

Bass & Flinders

“As long as we manage the time that the sun is coming down full belt, we can have minimal drawdown of a traditional power source, if at all – especially during the summer months. That’s great for cost-saving and sustainability.” – Holly Klintworth, Director of Bass & Flinders.

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