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Farmers Support Renewable Energy

In a time where environmental responsibility is crucial, businesses have a unique opportunity to contribute to sustainability while reaping significant benefits. The Mornington Peninsula Shire’s commitment to sustainability offers valuable insights into how local businesses can make impactful changes that benefit both their bottom line and the planet.

The Story

Hussey and Co. is a premium salad mix and baby leaf manufacturer and exporter. Their Mornington Peninsula farm is an energy intensive operation, requiring electricity to grow, harvest, wash, pack and store produce.

Hussey & Co. had been contemplating the installation of solar panels at the site for some time, but the payback period was hard to justify. Once the Environmental Upgrade Finance program* was available, the business case became very attractive, with fixed repayments and no significant cash outlay or security required.

After signing up for a 10-year loan of $165,000 with Sustainable Australia Fund to install 100 kilowatts (kW) of Solar PV on their roof, the electricity produced quickly offset the loan repayments, meaning they were cash positive. The process was simple and effective, and Hussey & Co have since signed a larger $1.2m agreement and have installed a further 500kW of Solar PV, bringing the total expected savings to $156,000 per year.

* This program is no longer available. See The Path Forward (below) for information on current grants and subsidies

Being in a farming business we get impacted firsthand by climate change impacts. As a result, we’re passionate about supporting any initiatives to sustain our future by reducing our carbon footprint and investing in renewable energy sources.

 Lance Petersen, General Manager of Hussey & Co.

Outcomes

The problem

  • High energy use
  • High operational costs
  • Large environmental impacts

The solution

  • Solar panels installed
  • Expected annual savings higher than loan repayments
  • Expected savings of $3.06m over 25-year asset lifetime*
  • Future-proofed business against volatile energy market

Environmental Upgrade 605kW capacity solar panels
Electricity Savings 700,000 kilowatt hours per annum
Cost Savings $156,000 per annum
Return on Investment after 10 years 14%

*Assumptions: 604kW solar array generates 703MWh in the first year. 25c/kWh electricity tariff, 11c/kWh feed in tariff. 20% electricity generated is exported to the grid, 80% used on site. Panel efficiency degrades 0.8% per year. Currency inflation 2% per year.

EUF has been a great way for our business to simply access finance with a favourable rate and term. As the loan is over a 10-year period, the loan can be cash positive from day one.

Lance Petersen, General Manager of Hussey & Co.

The Path Forward

While the specific funding for the Environmental Upgrade Finance (EUF) is no longer available, the commitment to sustainability remains a cornerstone for Mornington Peninsula Shire. The case Hussey & Co. demonstrates that investing in energy-efficient upgrades can yield significant benefits, both financially and environmentally.

Businesses are encouraged to explore various avenues for enhancing their sustainability practices. By upgrading to energy-efficient appliances and systems, businesses not only cut down on operating costs but also contribute to a healthier, more sustainable environment. This proactive approach not only benefits the business but also supports the broader community’s efforts to combat climate change.

Content updated June 2024

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