Struggling Australian Grape Growers Find Hope In Solar Energy Project

Jon Capistrano
Jon Capistrano
May 28, 2016

A solar project in the country’s largest grape growing region is giving hope to the struggling grape grower as reported by Renewable Energy World.

An electrical service company in South Australia’s Riverland is looking to build dozens of community-owned solar farms and sell the energy on Australia’s unstable spot market. The suburb is about 250km east of the South Australian capital of Adelaide and stretches for about 120km along the banks of the Murray, the country’s largest river.

The Renmark-based Yates Electrical Services started its “Red Mud” project this year and has been running a 180-kW test site for about three months now. The aim of the project is to work with landowners in setting up 100kW – 200kW solar farms and sell the power to the national electricity grid by way of this spot market. Managing Director Mark Yates said that under the “Red Mud” project, the landowners could lease their farm to be used for a solar energy farm, lease the land and buy into a portion of the farm or they can choose to own the entire solar farm. He also stated that the test site had shown that a 10% ROI every year can be achieved.

Yates stated that a typical 200kW farm would cover an acre, will include 800 ground-mounted solar panels and will cost between $300,000 and $400,000 to set up with a forecasted ROI of $40,000 every year. Yates said that the renewable energy option was appealing to landowners who were already trading their irrigation allocations and wanted an additional source of income.

Yates and his team have made about 40 site visits for possible landowners interested in taking up the project. He said that there are about 25% of sites that have excellent power connections and enough land, making them ideal candidates for the project.

Click here to read the full story on Renewable Energy World

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