Powering with the Sun

Who’d have thought that selling powdered broccoli would be such an energy intensive business? It was only supposed to be a small side-hustle, and I could not have foreseen how quickly it was going to take off. Still, here I am, saddled with not only three organic broccoli farms in Tasmania but also a large manufacturing plant in the suburbs of Melbourne. Granted, we’re leasing most of it to other businesses – the chocolate team, the probiotic jam crew and a couple of others.

This is good, I suppose, because it means I can keep producing the broccoli powder like I wanted to. On the other hand, I’m now responsible for powering this big ‘ol factory, which is completely outside my range of expertise. My guides tell me I need to get the place onto solar, but it’s a massive job and I don’t rightly know where to start. Between processing invoices from the broccoli growers and recording the podcast, I’ve barely got time to think about it.

Bernard says I should just bite the bullet and go the 100kW route. How much power does a 100kW solar system produce? It seems like it would be too big for our needs, but then I guess there’s always selling the power back to the grid, or starting a solar farm or whatever. That’s a thing, right? I know virtually nothing about this. This is why I never officially signed up to run a factory, but I guess it’s happening now I have to roll with it.

When it comes to commercial solar installations, Melbourne probably isn’t a bad place to be positioned relative to the rest of the country – not so much on a geographic level, but at least in terms of customers getting behind it and paying a bit more for a product with a lower carbon footprint. Putting the price of the product up to accommodate the transition to solar seems a tiny bit counter-intuitive, given that solar is supposed to reduce operating costs, but the fact is that it’s a big upfront investment.