Two major Victorian fresh produce suppliers have installed 100KW of solar PV each, in cost-cutting clean energy upgrades funded by the $100 million, joint venture CEFC-Commonwealth Bank Energy Efficient Loan (EEL) program.
The first company, Nu Fruit, has installed the solar panels at its Wangaratta refrigerated warehouses and cool-rooms, an effort it funded using $220,000 from the EEL.
Nu Fruit Director Dean Campagna said his Wangaratta-based company had already invested in modern, high humidity refrigerated fresh produce warehouses and cool-rooms, but that its electricity demands were still a key expense.
The 100kW of solar PV would mean the company could generate over 10 per cent of is own electricity, reducing its reliance on grid electricity and benefiting from the long term savings of solar PV, he said.
In the the Goulburn Valley, major pear and apple supplier Radevski Coolstores has also accessed the EEL program to install solar, as well as a new fruit grader that will boost its operations and cut its overall energy costs by a quarter.
Radevski’s up to 100 KW solar PV system will provide around 12 per cent of energy needs and, along with the new grader, cut the company’s overall energy bill by around 25 per cent.
Savings were also expected to be achieved through reduced energy use, reduced reliance on town water, the ability to store fruit at a slightly higher temperature and reduced packaging needs.
General Manager Peter Radevski said the new equipment would increase the energy productivity and competitiveness of Radevski Coolstores while accelerating them towards a long-term industry goal to reduce their carbon footprint.
The two companies are the latest to access the EEL, a program specifically designed by the CEFC to help local manufacturing businesses upgrade equipment to cut energy costs and boost competitiveness.
The Commonwealth Bank and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation both provided $50 million towards the joint venture, whose tailored loans are typically for amounts over $500,000.
“Many regional businesses have experienced significant energy cost increases and through this loan program we’re working with them to unlock energy productivity gains and cost reductions,” said CEFC CEO Oliver Yates.
“This EEL finance for upgrades is targeted at helping accelerate many types of smart energy improvements, including new purpose built processing equipment, improved industrial ovens, refrigeration upgrades, energy efficient trigeneration equipment and solar PV installation.”
“We’re very pleased with the response from business in the agriculture sector and from manufacturers in the program’s early stages, with finance towards projects totalling $20 million in value to date,” Yates said.