Prom Country Cheese
Solar Panels: 71 x Tier 1 solar panels
System Size: 21kW
Power Production: 120KW per day
Energy Cost Savings: Peak power consumption reduced by 60%
Return on Investment: Less than 5 years
Prom Country Cheese, nestled amongst the rolling, green hills of South Gippsland, is a boutique cheese farm, factory and cafe run by Burke and Bronwyn Brandon. Operated with a great passion for the land, Burke elaborates: “Our whole business relies on the production of clean ethical food. That means our whole farm is run sustainably, which ranges from tree planting revegetation and the management of sustainable grazing practices and fertilizing use. Every decision we make as a business considers sustainability and efficiency.”
Guided by that philosophy Burke and Brownyn carefully designed their purpose-build cheese factory 5 years ago and hand picked electrical appliances with the view to use renewable energy in the near future. The goal of installing solar was not only to meet their strict business beliefs, but also to reduce their huge energy bills, which contributed as the main component of their monthly expenditures.
The Gippsland Solar team visited the farm and thoroughly investigated the facilities to put together a comprehensive analysis considering every detail of their operation. Different to most dairy operations with little energy usage during the day, the majority of energy usage for Prom Country Cheese was for their cheese factory and café running a wide array of heating and refrigeration appliances that operate during the day. Burke explains: “We have quite a diverse spread of energy use, starting with the dairy early in the morning which uses a lot of power, with power mainly used for heating and cooling, such as heating milk and a lot of refrigeration. On weekends and public holidays our café appliances such as our three-phase commercial dishwashers and electric oven run flat out, which influences the energy usage a fair bit.”
The challenge for Gippsland Solar was to put together a solution that accounts for all aspects of the business. Gippsland Solar put forward a tailored solution that captures the morning and evening sun, with solar panels tilted east and west on the south side of the roof. This East/west array will integrate seamlessly with an existing north facing solar array, and provide the most even spread of solar generation from sunrise to sunset. Needing to communicate with an existing solar system, Prom Country Cheese were impressed with the suggested ‘optimiser’ system recommended by Gippsland Solar, which enables every panel to work independently from the rest of the array.
Burke who received two other quotes, was positive surprised by this creative and alternate solution: “Gippsland Solar were the only ones that came up with an alternative recommendation that was unexpected. Something that you wouldn’t expect to be the obvious solution.” It was Gippsland Solars unrivalled experience and knowledge that convinced Prom Country Cheese they were the right fit for them.
Gippsland solar won the tender process through their comprehensive analysis and report, creative problem solving solution and their excellent communication throughout the entire process making sure Prom Country Cheese understood every detail of their recommended 21kw solar system installation. One of the key decision factors for Prom Country Cheese was the return on investment analysis: “We could have gone for a much bigger system with a higher production, but the payback period would have been a lot worse. So, for us from a financial point of view, Gippsland Solar suggested the most efficient system for our investment involved.”
Prom Country Cheese were further impressed by their Gippsland Solar experience throughout the whole installation process. Burk elaborates: “We’re amazed how quickly it all happened, the actual panels went up on the roof within a few hours. The only interruption was having the power turned off for no more than 30 minutes whilst the Gippsland Solar team connected the solar into the the meter box. The installation really didn’t influence the business much at all.”
Now producing between 100 to 120 kw per day, Prom Country Cheese’s peak power consumption has been reduced by up to 60%, resulting in huge savings for the business.
“Overall, the communication has been excellent, from admin staff, quote process, installers and back up technicians have gone above and beyond to make sure that our system are working right and that we are happy with it.” – Burke Brandon