Sustainable energy management specialists South Street Energy says that with rising energy costs, food manufacturers and distributors are finding new ways to save money with their renewable energy systems and increase their returns.
Victorian based Lago Smallgoods and Sealane Food Group joined South Street Energy’s innovative Distributed Generation Network, an award-winning new way for owners of small-scale renewable energy systems to get more returns from the national electricity market.
Lago Smallgoods supplies processed meats including Ham, Bacon, Salami, European Sausages and Pizza Toppings to all leading independent Food Distributors across Australia.
General manager, Rhett Davis says the company is committed to environmental sustainability.
"We aim to have as small a footprint as possible and we've done everything we can to increase our efficiency," David said.
Davis says energy efficiency is important for running their ovens, slicers, refrigeration and freezers. They pay up to $20,000/month in electricity and are expecting their gas bill to increase by 350 per cent in January.
Installing a 420kw solar PV system on their roof halved their electricity bill eight years ago when they installed it. The 1120 panels cover the whole roof of their Broadmeadows factory. It generates more than 500MWh and on average Lago avoids putting 770kg of Co2 per day into the atmosphere with this system.
But in recent years, Davis says they weren't getting much return from their solar energy.
"We were down to getting between $80-$200/month for any solar generated electricity we supplied to the grid. South Street Energy came and installed a smart meter and quadrupled the income we could get to $900 or more per month."
South Street Energy managing director Marco Bogaers says South Street Energy has found a way for owners of small-scale renewable energy systems to participate in the electricity market and realise the true value of the renewable electricity they contribute.
“When businesses like Lago Smallgoods join our Distributed Generation Network, we install a meter so we can accurately measure the amount of electricity that is generated. Then we sell the renewable electricity they produce in either the retail or the wholesale market, whichever offers the greater return and take a share of the increased value we create,” Bogaers said.
Another company to benefit is Sealane Food Group, a family business that distributes wholesale and retail food and beverage products and operates from a purpose-built facility in Heidelberg, Victoria.
Co-owner Jamie Li says, “We’re constantly thinking about how we can reduce our environmental impact and coming up with innovative ways to improve from sustainable packaging of food products, recycling onsite materials by reducing waste going to landfill, all the way to reducing our carbon footprint with the way we use energy.
“We’re very proud of having our own 300 kW roof top solar generation system, and we took into consideration the design and build of our facility to support physical expansion of renewable energy infrastructure beyond 2030, such as capacity for onsite battery storage, water retention, efficient building design principles to combat sun exposure and room for solar panel expansion when required.
“Working with South Street Energy has provided support we’re not getting elsewhere to get more return on our solar energy system,” said Li.
In the first 9 months of this year Sealane’s solar system generated 256MWh. South Street Energy sold 35% of Sealane’s renewable electricity to the wholesale electricity market for $18,400 and their electricity bills reduced by $12,000. South Street Energy increased the value of Sealane’s renewable electricity from $19,200 to $30,400 – or from 7.5 cents to 11.9 cents per kWh.
“Getting this significant return allows us to offset high energy costs in this current economic environment and potentially re-invest back into our internal sustainability program for future planned renewable projects that we are currently exploring with industry partners and experts,” said Li.
Professor Bruce Mountain, Director of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre describes South Street Energy’s Distributed Generation Network as innovative and said South Street Energy had applied its detailed knowledge of metering and settlements to come up with a 'very clever' product.
“It is likely that this will considerably improve the attractiveness of distributed renewable generation, particularly for those installations with large grid export volumes that would otherwise receive low, or even no price for their exports to the grid.
“Being part of our Distributed Energy Generation Network has helped our customers weather the recent negative impacts of high electricity prices, and it fits directly into the Australian Government’s Powering Australia Plan to lift the share of renewables in the National Electricity Market to 82 per cent by 2030,” said Mountain.
“This benefits everyone. It helps the owners of individual systems by providing a new and additional form of revenue, it helps the community by providing further financial incentives for the take up of renewables and it helps the National Electricity Market (NEM) by providing a demonstrable mechanism for participation by small scale, renewable generators,” said Bogaers.
South Street Energy was recognised at the 2022 National and Victorian iAwards, in the Sustainability and Environmental Solution of the Year category, for its pioneering Distributed Generation Network, which enables the owners of small scale solar, wind and biogas generation systems to sell renewable electricity to the wholesale electricity market.