Sector: Agriculture
Address: Mornington Peninsula Shire
Environmental Upgrade: Solar panels and EV charging
Energy savings: $2,829 a year

Problem

Binbarra Farm on the Mornington Peninsula is known for its lush produce. Think orchards bursting with seasonal fruit and fresh hazelnuts.

Owners Nick and Vanessa Wootton proudly run the farm as a sustainable business, using regenerative agriculture techniques that restore the soil that makes their produce so good.

However, maintaining orchards is thirsty work. During the summer months, Nick and Vanessa spend a lot of money irrigating their trees, especially their prized hazelnuts, to keep them hydrated.

“We have a bore that fills our tanks. That runs on electricity, and it gets expensive to run,” Vanessa said.

That is, until they discovered how installing solar panels could make this necessary practice a whole lot cheaper.

Solution

Nick and Vanessa discovered the Sustainable Australia Fund through their local farmers discussion group. After hearing a presentation about the benefits of Environmental Upgrade Finance, they decided to take the plunge.

Process

At Sustainable Australia Fund, we pride ourselves on our straightforward finance and easy application process. Our interest rates are competitive, and our loan terms are flexible – meaning Nick and Vanessa could opt to pay off their loan between 10 and 15 years, the time period that worked best for them.

We also only work with licensed installers who have been trained in how Environmental Upgrade Finance works. Nick and Vanessa were delighted to see Priority One Solar on our list of preferred partners, as they’d worked on a previous project together.

With funding enabled by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, Nick and Vanessa worked with Priority One Solar to install a solar system on the Binbarra premises.

Mark Nicholson, an installer from Priority One, said there’s no better time to invest in solar power.

“It guarantees your energy security – especially if you’re dealing with power outages like Binbarra Farm – and helps to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, which ultimately leads to cost savings,” he said.

He also had this advice for any businesses preparing to transition to solar:

“Analyse your current energy usage and forecast what your future usage might be within the next 10 years. Bear in mind that we’re predicted to use more energy in the future as we transition to electric vehicles powered by renewable energy; err on the side of using more than you think you need.”

Outcome

Nick and Vanessa were thrilled to discover that their new solar panels are producing more electricity than they need to use, with their electricity bill savings covering the cost of their loan repayments.

“In 2021, we didn’t have to pay the utility company for $2,829 worth of energy,” Nick said. “50% of that comes from solar, and 28% comes from the power wall battery.”

The pair are already raving about the benefits of Environmental Upgrade Finance and encouraging other businesses in their area to invest in their own sustainability upgrades. According to Cr. Anthony Marsh – Mayor of Mornington Peninsula Shire – plenty of local businesses have been following their lead.

“Environmental Upgrade Finance is one of the main ways we can help businesses reduce their emissions,” he said. “Each project takes us a step closer to achieving our community’s goal of net zero emissions across the Peninsula by 2040. We are thrilled Peninsula businesses are leading the way.”

But for Nick and Vanessa, their biggest joy is the knowledge that they’ve helped their business become even more sustainable.

“It gives us real peace of mind to know that we’re doing the right thing to help get the country off of coal power.”

Binbarra Farm

“It gives us real peace of mind to know that we’re doing the right thing to help get the country off of coal power.” – Nick and Vanessa Wootton, owners of Binbarra Farm.

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