Large-scale solar project keeps wine cool

Energy procurement and contract management company Energy Action has engineered one of Queensland’s largest solar power projects for a private company.

Sirromet Wines has commissioned the 200kW power system, which will be located at its headquarters near Brisbane. A total of 800 photovoltaic solar panels, each rated 250watts, have been fitted in separate arrays to the roofs of the two largest buildings at the Mount Cotton winery.

Installation of the panels, inverters, and wiring began in mid-July 2013, and the system was activated in December 2013 after a final inspection by Energex.

Sirromet operations manager Alex Sey said the project will save the company about $50,000 a year, or 20 per cent, of its power costs. It will also benefit the environment by reducing the company’s annual carbon emissions by more than 400 tons.

“This is one of the biggest solar power systems of its type in Queensland for a private company such as ours. You could run power for 40 to 50 medium-to-large family homes with 200kW,” he said.

The new system cost approximately $400,000, with the expense to Sirromet offset by a grant of $197,000 from the former Labor Government’s Clean Technology Investment Program.

Energy Action director sustainability solutions Edward Hanna said the savings realised for Sirromet Wines will pave the way for more Australian businesses to seriously consider solar as an alternative power source to reduce their energy usage and costs.

“Our focus is on ensuring customers understand and rightsize both the risks and the rewards of their solar investment for their business, before they commit their capital to energy cost savings,” he said.

Clean Energy Engineering installed the system on-site. The larger of the two arrays is 528 panels, located on the roof above a building, which includes a barrel room, storage and bottling areas, the cellar door and offices. There is another array of 272 panels on a roof above the wine tank area. The system includes a total of 11 inverters for the two arrays, which are adjustable to control power supply.