Harvesting the sun to reduce energy costs

verdia solar panels rachele

Rachele Group Fruit packing shed’s new solar panels.

A third generation pear growing family is harvesting the sun to cut its energy use by one-third after installing solar panels across its two cold storage sheds.

The Rachele Family has been growing, packing, and transporting pears, nectarines, plums and peaches to supermarkets shelves from its 300 acre farming operation in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley for more than 50 years.

Co-owner Matthew Rachele said the farm’s energy costs had been increasing steadily over five years, but it had reached the point where they needed to take action.

“We pick our fruit and then we have to pull it down to zero degrees immediately,” he said.

“This refrigeration takes a lot of energy, it’s the most energy intensive part of our operations. The last couple of years in particular, our energy costs were out of control. We knew we needed to be more efficient. If we weren’t being efficient we were going backwards.”

The family was interested in exploring ways to reduce their increasing energy costs but was wary that the farm’s aging electrical switchboard couldn’t support new infrastructure.

Australian energy services business Verdia provided funding via the Westpac Energy Efficiency Program.

Verdia CEO Paul Peters said the initial capital investment, the solar system would pay itself off in five years and earn an additional $1.07 million in benefits over the life of the assets.

“We selected the best of three proposals from our suppliers to install two separate 100 kilowatt systems on the farm’s cold storage sheds,” Mr. Peters said.

“Together they will help cut their energy use by around 30 percent which translates to about a $62,000 a year reduction in their energy costs. It’s helping to take the volatility out of the farm’s future electricity contracts, which is becoming an increasing risk for many Australian businesses – particularly energy intensive operations driven by heating and cooling.”

The 500 solar panels are connected to the local electricity network via the farm’s internal electrical network and will produce 263,072 kWh of electricity in the first year, or enough to power 45 typical homes.

The two systems will reduce on site electricity use by about 30 percent, saving the business more than $62,000 a year in electricity costs. Excess energy production during non-peak farming periods is sent back to the grid, earning a small tariff.

Verdia is a key partner in Westpac’s Energy Efficiency Program which provides finance to help customers reduce their energy costs with onsite renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions.


For more information, contact:

Genevra Howard
0499 883 238

Read the original press release


By |April 16th, 2019|Cold storage, Opportunities, Technology and robotics|

About the Author:

APAL is an industry representative body and not-for-profit membership organisation that supports Australia’s commercial apple and pear growers.