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.
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.
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.
“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.