07 Nov 2019

Using the sun’s power to light up Rijk Zwaan

Two hundred and thirty solar panels installed at Rijk Zwaan’s Australia’s head office have the potential to run the site for zero cost and virtually zero pollution.

Facilities Coordinator, Matthew Sharp, said within weeks the site at Musk, located north-west of Melbourne, could be running entirely from solar power.

“The 230 panels, strategically placed on the seed processing shed’s roof, amounts to a 70 kilowatts capacity, which is the load that we use over our very busy period in summer,” Matthew explained.

“Seventy kilowatts is a big system – for comparison a house would run a six kilowatt system. Most of the things that we have to run are quite large, there's some big motors and compressors and fans etc., and an accumulation of smaller equipment that make us arrive at that 70 kilowatt total.”

The state-of-the-art panels and inverters were installed by a locally-based company.

“The Fronius inverters that turn the solar energy into power are Austrian made and are 99.9% efficient. That was important to us because some of the other inverters on the market are not quite as efficient,” Matthew said.

“They're very smart devices, if they get over powered, they shut down, if they're not getting enough power they shut down, they monitor everything to keep the power supply at the correct level.”

The panels have an estimated 20-year lifespan and were chosen due to their adaptability to new technology.

“We've got the capability to add to the system so if newer technology comes out, we might be able to put up half as many panels with another inverter. Technology is changing constantly so that’s why we took some time in seeking and finding the best panels.”

Corporate Social Responsibility is an integral part of Rijk Zwaan and the company’s commitment to being greener isn’t stopping there.

“We are also looking at the potential of preheating water for our greenhouse to reduce our gas footprint as well as our electrical footprint. This would involve a solar hot water-type system to preheat the water and then storing that heated water in an insulated tank. This would mean that we are only using gas to heat water as a supplement,” Matthew said.

“We are committed to using new knowledge, research and technologies to avoid the depletion of natural resources and ensure sustainable vegetable production well in to the future.”  

To learn more about Rijk Zwaan's committment to CSR, please visit our corporate website