Robinvale Wines, an award-winning certified bio-dynamic organic producer of wines and juices, has become even more sustainable with the installation of 60kW of solar panels. With this 135-panel system, Robinvale Wines use of mains grid electricity will be cut five-fold and annual electricity bills for running their cool rooms and factory will be reduced by 80%. Plus, thanks to a generous grant from Agriculture Victoria, the payback is projected to be 2.3 years.
Cutting bills and CO2 emissions
Steve Caracatsanoudis one of the owners of Robinvale Wines said for them going solar was as much about reducing their carbon footprint as it is about cutting their electricity bills. “We assign a percentage of our annual profits to investing in equipment, infrastructure and processes that increases the sustainability of our business and reduces our carbon footprint. Harvesting the power of the sun makes sense for our business both environmentally and financially,” he said.
Search for solar partner
Mr Caracatsanoudis said that finding the right solar partner had taken Robinvale Wines some time. “We’d been looking for the right solar provider for around seven years but never found a solar company that ticked all the boxes. We didn’t want just any solar installer to come in and put up lots of panels and never see them again. What we were looking was a trusted partner with strong focus on customer service, who employed local people to deliver the work. We heard about the Agriculture Victoria grant and thought it was worth going for,” he added.
Finding the Mallee Sun Solar Bulk-Buy “a turning point”
Mr Caracatsanoudis said coming across the Mallee Sun Solar Bulk-Buy was a turning point. “I was looking for solar panels for my home and went to an information meeting of the Mallee Sun Solar Bulk-buy in Robinvale, a couple of years ago. I liked what I heard because it chimed in well with our values around supporting local community and working towards carbon neutrality. The credentials of their solar provider – Specialized Solar – looked good particularly the fact that they’d been selected through competitive tendering, that it was a Council-supported program and they used a local installer,” he said.
Going for the Agriculture Victoria Grant “Definitely Worthwhile”
Mr Caracatsanoudis added that the Agriculture Victoria On-Farm Energy Grant was another factor for Robinvale Wines. “Going for the grant was definitely worthwhile. Without it, the payback would have been around 4.2 years. Anthony Igmen from Specialized Solar helped a lot with the grant process. He was pivotal to getting our grant application over the line,” he said.
Impressed by local installer
Robinvale Wines was impressed by Specialized Solar’s local installer – Matt Iannucci of Swan Hill Solar and Electrical. “He has worked very hard on the system implementation and is very responsive. They also installed a 6.6kW solar power system on my home and that’s been great.”
“The level of customer support from Specialized Solar has been tremendous. Anthony Igmen has visited us several times and is in regular contact. I am confident that with Specialized Solar we are in good hands and that the system is set to deliver the financial and environmental benefits we want to achieve.
Mr Caracatsanoudis said given the growth plans for Robinvale Wines, they have a long-term view for the use of renewable energy within the business. “We are interested in opportunities like energy trading and microgrids to build the resilience of our business and other farming operations in our region. I am pleased that Specialized Solar, the Mallee Sun Solar Bulk-Buy and Swan Hill Rural City Council are partners in the supply of our system and improving the energy infrastructure of our region – as well as giving back a portion of the revenues from installations like ours to our community. I’m hoping that the next community bonus system through the Mallee Sun Solar Bulk-Buy will be one in the Robinvale area,” he added.
Find out more – events
Mallee Sun Solar Bulk Buy is a project of the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation which supports 13 councils across central and north western Victoria.
Farmers who are interested in finding out about ‘going solar’ with the Mallee Sun Solar Bulk-Buy are invited to attend a ‘Solar for Farmers’ event on 4 May at the Euston Club (near Robinvale) or the Swan Hill Club on 5 May – both events are from 5-6pm.
To learn more, register for an event or request a quote, visit mash.org.au/swan-hill or call 1300 466 274.
About Robinvale Wines
Robinvale Wines is a family business established in 1976 in Robinvale which is 470 km North-West of Melbourne near the Murray River and 130 km north west of Swan Hill.
Robinvale Wines manufacture and bottle their wines and non-alcoholic beverages.
A maker of award-winning bio-dynamic, organic and preservative free wines and juices, Robinvale Wines was one of the first Australian wineries to be fully accredited with ACO Australian Certified Organic and the Bio-Dynamic Research Institute of Australia, also the first to be certified Vegan internationally with Beveg.
Today Steve and Bill Caracatsanoudis, sons of the founders Mr. and Mrs. George Caracatsanoudis, and their families continue to produce quality wines and non-Alcoholic beverages for domestic and international markets.
Solar facts – Robinvale Wines
- Estimated electricity bill savings in year 1: $13 400
- Grant value: $24,776 exc GST
- No export limitations from Powercor
- Total system size: 59.4kW (1 x 19.8kW and 1 x 39.6kW system)
- 135 panels (440w Seraphim mono perc panels)
- 3 x Fronius Symo inverters