Brookfarm looks east and west for solar powered bakehouse

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Brookfarm goes solar with east-west array that matches consumption. Food manufacturers are finding that rooftop solar fits in with production needs.

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One of Australia’s leading boutique food companies has gone solar, in a move that will see it cover a large part of its electricity needs during the day.

Brookfarm, a northern rivers-based macadamia and muesli specialist, has installed a 94.176kW solar system on the roof of its Byron Bay bakehouse.

brookfarmWhat makes this installation interesting is that it is mounted with an east-west orientation rather than north.

That means the array may not produce as much electricity in total had it faced north, but its output fits in with the plant’s hours of operation, which begins in the early morning and continues until the late afternoon.

Patrick Halliday, the head of Juno Energy, which installed the solar array, says it is designed to match consumption. By having part of the array facing east, the solar array is producing power before 6am in the daylight saving months, just as activities start at the food manufacturer.

“It’s all about self consumption,” Halliday says. And, because it does not produce all its electricity at the same time, it also suits the local network operator. This graph below shows the average output. Ned Halliday says the east-west array works out at an exact 50-50 split for total production over the day.  Orange and pink represent the east facing array and the top two the west facing.

brookfarrm outputHalliday says there is a growing trend towards different array shapes.

quiksilverA recently installed smaller installation at Quiksilver, near the beach-front at Byron Bay, had 10kW of solar panels facing east, north and west to maximize self consumption.

The Brookfarm plant has used SunPower panels, Fronius inverters and Sunlock mountings. Even on an overcast day, the panels are estimated to contribute to 40 per cent of the factory’s energy requirements.

Operations manager Will Brook estimates the system will have paid for itself within four years. One third of the $233,000 installation cost came from the sale of Small Scale Technology Certificates, which contributed $71,248.

Juno’s Halliday says that the food processing industry understands solar. Brookfarm is one of a number of food processors and growers in the region that installed solar. Several macadamia farms had done the same, Macadamia Castle has installed a solar array – and some solar-powered EV charging stations, and several food processing companies in Lismore have also installed solar.

brookfarm daily

“There is a growing trend towards sourcing food locally and now generating electricity locally. It’s what people believe in in this region.”

The Brookfarm factory was built five years ago with a roof capture system to collect rainwater that in turn waters the trees surrounding the bakehouse. The roof was also designed to support solar panels.

Will Brook said in a statement: “We originally designed the roof to support solar panels and we have been waiting for the technology to catch up, so today it is now a commercially viable option to solar power our production facility.”

The building was also designed to include cool room paneling in the walls, which externally insulates the building and internally reflects white light to minimise internal lighting needs.

 

 

 

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6 Comments
  1. Gordon 5 years ago

    It’s good to see this concept taking off with big arrays, although I note Brookfarm’s array isn’t really all that far from flat. Tilting the panels up at a much steeper angle will lower the peak and broaden the curve to a near-flat top for much of the day, with not too much of a loss of total energy output.

    I did an experiement a couple of years ago and wrote some results up on the Energy Matters Forum (where I am moderator):
    http://forums.energymatters.com.au/solar-wind-gear/topic5064.html

  2. sunoba 5 years ago

    Readers might be interested in an estimate for the LCOE for this project. I make it AUD 184/MWh. Details in today’s post at http://www.blogspot.com.

  3. sunoba 5 years ago

    Oops, wrong web address for my previous comment. It is http://www.sunoba.blogspot.com.

  4. Steve Fuller 5 years ago

    I’m surprised that an smaller array on a sun tracking system wouldn’t be economically viable. Or is the inclusion of moving parts more costly than more static panels? Are tracking systems part of the future?

    • Catprog 5 years ago

      I think I recall something about it being equal to another 2 panels in cost. (Not sure how big the system was)

  5. omnik new energy 4 years ago

    We look forward high-tech development of new energy in the future. Brookfarm’s array is output fits in with the plant’s hours of operation, which begins in the early morning and continues until the late afternoon.

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