A raspberry farm in Hobart’s Derwent Valley has installed a 50kW solar PV system to offset the cost of blast-freezing its produce.
Westerway Raspberry Farm, established 20 years ago by the Clark family on Tasmania’s Tyenna River, recently purchased a 288 cubic metre blast freezer to counter the short growing season and expand its market.
The cost of running the freezer, as well as the farm’s irrigation pumps, was, however prohibitive, so the idea for solar came about.
The 50kW solar system comprises nearly 200 PV panels, installed in a paddock – rather than on a roof – to reduce the wind loading and allow for maximum sun exposure and low maintenance.
It is also located between the farm’s pump and freezer, making the system ideal for maintenance and for future expansion.
Westerway Harvest manager Richard Clark said that while the freezer had revolutionised their farming operation, the solar has made it more affordable to operate.
“We need to take the fruit from the field and freeze it at its peak quality and it is not viable to slowly freeze warm fruit from the field where summer temperatures can often exceed 30°C,” he said.
“The system …is extremely efficient and uses the solar energy on the freezer when needed and then switches over to irrigation when the freezer is not in use.
“The idea was to capture as much energy on the farm, as we need and use it through December, January and February, when most of our activities are in high gear,” Clark.
“As well as the financial benefits of using less energy, we are very happy to now have a smaller environmental footprint.
“We are so pleased at the results from our first season that we are now exploring the expansion of our solar system,” he said.