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Local wine estate goes green

In keeping with its green culture, Graham Beck is now also harnessing the sun in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint.

This comes after the estate recently installed a solar photovoltaic (PV) system at Madeba, its Robertson estate.

The estate’s switch to solar was very practical, given the abundance of sunshine in Robertson, Louis Jordaan, Graham Beck Operations Manager explained during the official reveal of the estate’s latest project. “With all the sunshine hours in the Robertson area we have a high solar irradiation factor,” he said. “That factor, combined with the fact that all the roof areas on our structures are positioned at the perfect angle for optimising the solar radiation, made it an easy decision to harvest sunlight for electricity.”

The installation is a 312 kWp system, and was installed in November last year. Approximately 2 384,5 m² of the estate’s roof space is now covered with 1 200 solar panels and each with a 260 Wp capacity.

The electricity generated by the system is for the estate’s own consumption. The majority is consumed by the cellar, Jordaan told Breederivier Gazette. This includes cooling systems and presses in the cellar. Any surplus energy is fed back into Madeba’s own grid.

According to Jaco Botha, managing director of Solareff, the company responsible for the installation of the solar system, Madeba’s system will continue to produce clean “green” electricity for at least 25 years, providing tangible environmental benefits for sustainable, responsible farming.

“We take from nature during the winemaking process, and this is a nice way of giving back. At Graham Beck we not only harvest grapes to make MCC, we also harvest the sun to make kilowatts. When we switched the solar plant on, the effect was immediate.

It was like magic seeing how solar irradiation changes into electricity!” said Jordaan.

Apart from the fact that the solar panels will provide 16% of Madeba’s electricity consumption, resulting in savings of over R305 000 in the first year, the addition of solar panels on the cellar’s roof also has another surprising benefit, Jordaan reveals. “The roof below the panels is much cooler, which results in a lot less cooling needed inside the cellar.”

Annually the system will save 254 tons of coal and avoid over 474 tons of CO2 emissions, according to Botha.

The project has cost close to R5 million, a sound investment in the cellar’s future, Jordaan emphasises. “This is a business for our children’s children. If we want them to produce wine I hope that all cellars will find a way to help Mother Nature.”

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