Thriving on Renewable Energy Sources
New Zealand is in the fortunate position of being able to draw the majority of our energy from renewable sources: water and wind generation. However, the rising cost of electricity and the high energy demands of wine production has seen the industry turn to energy conservation as a key focus area. In a winery, energy conservation begins in the planning and construction stages.
The architectural design, building material selections, and insulation requirements should all focus on maximizing natural lighting, reducing heat build-up, and maintaining even temperatures year-round. New and upgraded winery buildings feature impressive technologies to assist with energy conservation including: computer-controlled heat pumps, heat recovery systems, variable speed pumps to minimize energy required to pump wine and water, and motion sensors that switch lights off when there is no activity.
In older buildings, taking simple steps such as adding insulation, reducing air leaks, and regular building and systems maintenance has a big impact on energy use. Energy-saving initiatives being used in vineyards and wineries throughout New Zealand shave a large amount off annual running costs.
New Zealand viticulturists’ work hard to cut down the amount of fossil fuels going into vineyard work by reducing the number of sprays applications administered with machinery where possible, and doubling up on activities when using vehicles in the vineyard. Running sheep and other livestock between the vines is a way of controlling grasses and weeds (previously sprayed or mown) in a natural way with virtually no impact on the environment.
The Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand program works to benchmark and track energy use within the industry. This information is passed on to members, and allows them to compare their energy use with wineries of differing sizes, in different regions.
Benchmarking industry energy consumption provides wineries with: a starting point to reduce energy costs from, practical guidance and steps on how to improve energy performance, and examples of how other similar sized wineries are improving energy use. The Benchmarking and Energy and Water Savings Tool (BEST)
BEST is an integrated benchmarking and self-assessment model, developed in California, and adapted for our industry and conditions by New Zealand Winegrowers. The tool enables wineries to calculate their energy and water efficiency, then compare it to results from a benchmark winery considered to be a ‘best practice’ example. Once a winery’s performance has been evaluated, members can input different practices into the tool to understand which alternative methods give the best results.
The model calculates the overall energy and water savings, cost savings, and a re-calculated efficiency value. The energy benchmark that best expresses the energy use efficiency of a winery is the kilowatt-hours of energy used to process a liter of juice (kWh/liter of juice). By using BEST New Zealand wineries are able to assess their energy and water use and efficiency options, then use the information provided to make educated decisions on how to improve their performance.