Sydney manufacturer deploys 1MW solar system to maintain competitive advantage

Yet another of Australia’s large manufacturing firms has turned to renewable energy in an effort to both reduce its operating costs and its environmental footprint.

The Australian family owned G. James manufacturing facility, located in the Sydney industrial suburb of Smithfield, has completed the installation of a 1MW behind the meter solar installation. It will reduce the site’s grid demand by a quarter and reduce its emissions by an estimated 900 tonnes of CO2-e each year.

The system, which will generate more than 1GWh of electricity each year, has been installed across the roofs of three buildings at the manufacturing facility.

The solar PV system, which includes 2,410 solar panels, will provide the facility with more than one-quarter of its electricity needs. This will save the company more than $270,000 each year through reduced electricity costs, and an estimated $5.6 million over the life of the project.

The G. James facility produces aluminium and glass fittings used in building construction, with more than 2,500 people employed across all of its operations.

The factory produces fittings using aluminium extrusion, along with glass that is cut, toughened and laminated on site with the end products are commonly used in residential and commercial properties.

Each of these processes are highly energy intensive, requiring the production of both high temperatures and pressures, and with increasing competition from overseas suppliers, G. James looked to solar to reduce its energy costs, and remain competitive in the Australian market.

The installation was overseen by energy specialist Verdia.

“Its plant is using heating and cooling processes to produce its end products, and this uses a lot of energy,” Verdia CEO Paul Peters said.

“The cost of that power across its Smithfield operations went up substantially over a 12-month period. Overseas manufacturers just aren’t facing these same costs pressures at the scale we’ve seen here in Australia.”

The project was also completed with financing support from the Westpac Energy Efficiency Program, which has partnered with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to provide loans and leasing arrangements for companies looking to invest in on-site electricity generation and reduce their overall energy usage.

Verdia works closely with the Westpac Energy Efficiency Program providing advice on suitable projects for support under the program.

Verdia has delivered 68MW of behind-the-meter solar installations across Australia and covering the retail, manufacturing, agriculture and aged care sectors, including the mammoth roll-out of 3.5MW of rooftop solar across Coca Cola production facilities. The company most recently managed the installation of 1.3MW of rooftop solar across schools in Sydney’s west.

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