Watts in your BusinessBusiness Management
Energy use in Australian orchards accounts for a large proportion of production costs – a major financial burden for temperate fruit businesses. The ‘Watts in Your Business’ energy efficiency information project has identified ways in which businesses can reduce energy use (and save money) within the apple, pear, summerfruit and cherry industries.
The project has conducted 30 energy audits of fruit orchards and packing sheds in 10 Australian fruit growing regions: Stanthorpe (Queensland), Orange (New South Wales), Batlow (New South Wales), Young (New South Wales), Donnybrook (Western Australia), Adelaide Hills (South Australia), Swan Hill (Victoria), Huon Valley (Tasmania), Goulburn Valley (Victoria) and the Yarra Valley (Victoria). The audits covered temperate fruit businesses of varying sizes (small, medium and large) and showed where businesses can make changes to achieve greater energy savings in both the long and short-term.
Energy efficiency information survey
Apple, pear, summerfruit and cherry growers recently participated in an energy efficiency information survey to determine where the main energy costs within an orchard packhouse come from. The survey responses indicated that energy usage is a major cost for Australian fruit growers.
The median total energy bill (including electricity, LPG and diesel fuel) for Australian orchards is around $81,000 per year but total energy use by the largest orchards costs up to $1 million a year.
Results from the survey validate the need for an energy efficiency information program across the temperate fruit industries and confirms that while growers have good intentions to reduce energy costs many don’t really know how to go about it.
View the full report of the 2013 survey. NOTE: Although the survey results are from a small sample population, results are perceived a fair representation of the industries packhouses views on energy costs.
Energy saving walks share results with growers
On 23 July 2014, APAL launched the ‘Watts in Your Business’ energy saving walks with Senator Bridget McKenzie. More than 50 people attended and heard about the whole array of energy-saving options for growers.
Amanda Booth, Environmental Consultant, KMH Environmental, who undertook the audits of the businesses, gave a rich presentation and said the findings show that, on average, businesses can save $16,300 per year from cost effective upgrades with a payback period of six years or less. Download Amanda’s presentation given at the national launch of the Watts in Your Business packing shed / orchard walks.
Video of the launch of APAL’s ‘Watts in Your Business’ energy saving walks, 23 July 2014, Ardmona, Victoria. Video by Mike Lamond, Good Fruit and Vegetable
Energy-saving fact sheets and case stories
Below is a list of fact sheets compiled how and where fruit production businesses can save energy in their packing sheds and orchards: Saving energy fact sheets:
- Saving energy – Lighting in packing sheds
- Saving energy – Refrigeration in fruit cool stores
- Saving energy – Electricity tariffs
- Saving energy – Grading in packing sheds
- Saving energy – Irrigation in orchards
- Saving energy – SmartFresh in cool stores (from AgroFresh)
Saving energy case stories:
- Installing a power factor correction unit, Batlow (NSW)
- Installing voltage power optimisation, Goulburn and Yarra Valley (VIC)
- Switching to energy-efficient lighting in packing shed, Orange (NSW)
- Using solar panels on packing shed, Inglewood (SA)
- Changing power usage to manage electricity demand, Stanthorpe (QLD)
- Using a variable speed drive on orchard irrigation motor, Swan Hill (VIC)
- Reduce head pressure on fruit cool store refrigeration system, TAS and WA
- Automating fruit cool store doors, Young (NSW)
- Upgrading fruit cool store refrigeration systems, Goulburn Valley (VIC)
- Installing variable speed drives on evaporative fan motors, Manjimup (WA)
Final technical report
‘Watts in Your Business’ was a national, fact-based, practical learning program to assist Australia’s apple, pear, summerfruit and cherry industry (known as the temperate fruit industry) in understanding how to reduce energy use and operating costs. The Program conducted energy audits at 30 representative packhouses and orchards across Australia and developed case stories and fact sheets that were distributed to the wider industry via on-site seminars and industry publications. This final technical report details the findings of the audits conducted by the Program and analyses the data (where appropriate) by three classifications: region, crop type and SME size. Overall the Program aimed at bridging the knowledge gap for the industry on how to reduce energy use and connect industry small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the techniques and technologies that will improve their energy efficiency.
Video of Amanda Booth presenting at APAL’s ‘Watts in Your Business’ event in Orange, NSW, 20 Aug 2014.
‘Watts in Your Business’ is managed by APAL, undertaken with Summerfruit Australia Limited and Cherry Growers Australia Inc., and funded under the Australian Government’s Energy Efficiency Information Grants program. KMH Environmental have completed the audits and are preparing the reports with the assistance of Michael Bellstedt and Ananth Arkal of Minus 40, and Sam Birrell of Netafim.
For more information about the ‘Watts in your Business’ project contact the APAL office on 03 9329 3511 or download the EEIG Frequently asked questions page.