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Antipodean wineries lead sustainable energy production with major solar farm installations

Published:  19 October, 2016

Yealands Wine Group has added 918 photovoltaic (PV) panels to its winery roof, making it the largest solar panel system in New Zealand.

Yealands Wine Group has added 918 photovoltaic (PV) panels to its winery roof, making it the largest solar panel system in New Zealand.

The company's Seaview Vineyard in Marlborough has increased its renewable energy output by bringing the total PV panels to 1,314 on its winery roof.

The sustainable energy investment means the vineyard is now capable of generating 411.12 kilowatts of solar power - the equivalent to powering 86 New Zealand homes - while offsetting 82 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

"We already had a pretty substantial solar array in place, but it takes a lot to power any kind of building and a winery's no different," said founder Peter Yealands.

"By increasing the size of our solar array we will decrease our reliance on the national grid and generate 30% of the power we require to power our tank coolers, computers, you name it. I've always been passionate about renewable energy and also about self-reliance.

"We have been carbon neutral since inception but that doesn't mean we can just sit back. Our new solar panels will further help reduce our carbon emissions and keep us true to our claim of being the most sustainable winery in the world."

The solar installation is part of a continued effort on the company's part to reduce its reliance on the national grid for energy.

It will generate 30% of the winery's average electricity needs from tank cooling and powering pumps to running presses.

Last year, Yealands reduced its electricity consumption from the grid by 10% and CO2 emissions were reduced by 90 metric tonnes.

The new installation is expected to cut the winery's carbon footprint by a further 82 tonnes annually, with an estimated 505,000 kWh of solar energy forecast for the first year.

The solar panel installation took a six-person team four weeks to complete.

The panels were installed on the northern side of the winery's roof to ensure optimum solar energy capture throughout the day and allow for the maximum number of panels to be installed.

The Yealands installation was made possible through PowerSmart GOLD which allows companies to buy locally produced solar power without actually having to own the system.

PowerSmart is the company behind the redesign installation of the next two largest solar power PV systems in New Zealand at Sylvia Park Mall (355kW) and Tarewa Mega Mall (240kW).

Meanwhile, in Australia, work has begun to expand sustainable energy sources at Yalumba winery.

Yalumba, Australia's oldest family-owned winery, together with AGL Energy Limited (AGL) in currently installing the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) system installation at an Australian winery.

The 1.4 MW solar PV system will consist of 5,384 panels, installed across three Barossa locations: Yalumba Angaston winery, Oxford Landing Winery and the Yalumba Nursery.

"For more than 166 years, Yalumba has been dedicated to reducing our impact on the environment, believing that we are the custodians of the land and have a responsibility to pass it to future generations in good order. This installation is another important chapter in our sustainability journey," Yalumba Wine Company MD Nick Waterman said.

The solar system installation began at the Yalumba Angaston winery in August 2016, with completion expected across all three sites, in December.