How solar cut a Victorian nursery's power costs by one third

A Victorian flower growing business is expecting to slash its yearly power bill by one-third after installing a 60kW solar system at its Dandenong Ranges nursery.
Aker Flowerbulbs sells tulips, lilies, irises, gladioli, hyacinths, daffodils and other bulbs – an energy-intensive business that depends on keeping the imported bulbs at a precise temperature, ranging from 30+°C to -1.5°C degrees, depending on the species.

Image: Supplied

“We previously spent $60,000 a year on energy,” said business manager Matt Blom. Now, since adding solar, Blom says the company is on track to substantially reduce this amount, and is exploring the economics of adding battery storage to the equation.
“We expect to save the capital cost of the system in five years with savings of $13,497 or 32 percent in year one and continuing to a total of $176,010… in year 10,” Blom said.
Richard Martin of AEES Group, which designed and installed the PV system said his company started on the design by gathering key data through the business’s smart meter.
“We used this to determine the size of the solar system that would be required and the economic justification for the capital cost. The data allowed us to do an accurate cost-benefit analyses,” Martin said.
AEES wound up recommending a system of 231 Trina Smart panels coupled with Tigo DC optimisation and remote live time monitoring which allows us to provide timely maintenance and quickly detect any problems.
“We have already had a situation when a string of panels was underperforming through the failure of a $6.50 fuse, which we were quickly able to identify and fix,” Martin said.
“The monitoring results are also beamed to the head office of Aker Flowerbulbs in Holland and they have been so impressed that they have moved to install their own solar system based on the Australian experience,” he said.

Govind Kant, Trina Solar’s Asia Pacific sales manager said that the experience of Aker Flowerbulbs was typical of the feedback he was receiving for this type of system, particularly where there was a consistent energy requirement, rather than sharp peaks and troughs.
“Their experience with Trinasmart panels and real time monitoring not only provides continuous input of the savings benefits of the system, but allows timely maintenance to overcome any problems and maintain optimum performance.
“We are also pleased that the experience in Victoria has led to their head office on the other side of the world moving to install their own system, based on the Australian success.
“After all this type of testimonial is our best form of advertising,” Govind said.
The Stats:

  • 60kW Grid-Tied Solar PV DC Optmised System – Roof Top Mounted
  • Production average – 70,000kWh per month or 207,079kWh annually
  • PV Panels – Trina Smart Module Gen 2 Pro
  • ABB Trio 27.6kW 3 Phase Inverters
  • Secondary Protection – phase balancing and ABB Controller incorporated
  • Limited Export Control to 30kW – ZED3 manufactured by GNT and approved by Ausnet Services (Vic)
  • Energy Use – Cold Storage and Packing operations for Flower handling and export
  • Total Saving – Year 1 – $13,497 (32%).  Year-10 $176,010 (31%)
  • Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) reduced from 20.5c/kWh to 14c/kWh in Year-1.

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