Two produce companies first to benefit as CEFC & Comm Bank team up to finance commercial solar

A $100 million financing facility established by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Commonwealth Bank has helped two major Victorian produce suppliers install 100KW of solar PV each, cutting their power costs by up to 25 per cent.

Wangaratta-based Nu Fruit, which accessed $220,000 via the joint venture Energy Efficiency Loan (EEL) program, has installed the 100kW of solar panels at its refrigerated warehouses and cool-rooms.

Meanwhile Goulburn Valley-based pear and apple supplier Radevski Coolstores also accessed the EEL program to install solar, as well as a new fruit grader that will boost its operations and cut its overall energy costs by a quarter.

The two companies are the latest to access the EEL, a program specifically designed by the CEFC to help local manufacturing businesses upgrade equipment to cut energy costs and boost competitiveness.

The Commonwealth Bank and the CEFC both provided $50 million towards the JV, whose tailored loans are typically for amounts over $500,000.

Nu Fruit Director Dean Campagna said his company had already invested in modern, high humidity refrigerated fresh produce warehouses and cool-rooms, but that its electricity demands were still a key expense.

Getting finance to install the 100kW of solar PV would mean the company could generate over 10 per cent of is own electricity, reducing its reliance on grid electricity and benefiting from the long term savings of solar PV, he said.

Radevski’s up to 100 KW solar PV system will provide around 12 per cent of energy needs and, along with the new grader, cut the company’s overall energy bill by around 25 per cent.

Savings were also expected to be achieved through reduced energy use, reduced reliance on town water, the ability to store fruit at a slightly higher temperature and reduced packaging needs.

General Manager Peter Radevski said the new equipment would increase the energy productivity and competitiveness of Radevski Coolstores while accelerating them towards a long-term industry goal to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Many regional businesses have experienced significant energy cost increases and through this loan program we’re working with them to unlock energy productivity gains and cost reductions,” said CEFC CEO Oliver Yates.“This EEL finance for upgrades is targeted at helping accelerate many types of smart energy improvements, including new purpose built processing equipment, improved industrial ovens, refrigeration upgrades, energy efficient trigeneration equipment and solar PV installation.”

“We’re very pleased with the response from business in the agriculture sector and from manufacturers in the program’s early stages, with finance towards projects totalling $20 million in value to date,” Yates said.

Top image via Wikipedia

© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson