Sun-kissed Cape wine now bottled using solar power

13 April 2016 - 20:48 By TMG Digital
Image: TERRA FIRMA SOLUTIONS

A wine production plant in the Western Cape has commissioned a rooftop solar plant that will provide up to half the energy needed to make 3-million litres of wine a month.

The 2‚600 solar panels cover four roofs at Douglas Green Bellingham in Wellington‚ covering 6‚200 square metres and forming the largest rooftop solar photovoltaic power plant in the South African wine industry‚ according to installer Terra Firma Solutions.

Douglas Green Bellingham production director Ree Du Toit said the installation made "sound financial sense from a capital investment point of view”‚ and the carbon emissions saved would be the equivalent of driving a small car from Cape Town to Johannesburg 5‚550 times a year.

CEO Tim Hutchinson said: “This plant will produce over 1.25-million kWh in its first year of full operation. With the environmental and financial benefits from investing into projects such as these‚ the company is investigating renewable energy opportunities across the group.”

Terra Firma Solutions managing director Ed Gluckman said the Drakenstein municipality was one of the few in the country that allowed "net metering".

“This enables the facility to export power back to the grid at the same rand per kWh rate at which it pays the municipality. There is expected exporting of electricity when the plant reaches its peak power and therefore producing more power than what is required on site during the day.”

Douglas Green Bellingham is one of South Africa’s largest wine producers and owns the Boschendal‚ Bellingham‚ Franschhoek Cellar‚ Douglas Green‚ Brampton and Wellington wineries.

Du Toit said it was hard to put a finger on the value of sustainability measures‚ but many international markets‚ especially the UK‚ Scandinavia and parts of Europe‚ placed high value on wines produced in a sustainable manner.

The company won the 2011 UK Drinks Business Green Award for supply chain and logistics. Over the past three years it has reduced glass use by 3.25-million kilograms.

The company has also reduced the board grade of packaging cartons‚ simplified the printing on cartons‚ thereby using less ink‚ and removed lacquer coats from cartons where possible. Customers were being persuaded to ship wines more sustainably too.

Total water consumption is down 18%‚ and energy use down 22% over the last three years.

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