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Charlesworth Nuts installs solar system

Updated: With additional information provided by Power & Drive Renewable Solutions

Charlesworth Nuts, a South Australian owned and operated business processing nuts and dried fruit, has installed a new solar power system at their factory in Marion.

Installed on the roof of their factory and office complex, the 98kW system is one of the largest privately owned solar installs in the state, with the 392 solar panels on the north of the roof spanning 50 x 20 metres. On a sunny day, the solar array provides nearly all of the power needed to run the 4,000m² factory.

Mark Charlesworth, Financial Director, Charlesworth Nuts explains that their move to solar power reflects their contribution to the preservation of the local environment while also taking some pressure off the electricity grid.

The successful implementation of the solar power system is the result of a collaborative effort between South Australian businesses. The solar solution was managed and implemented by South Australian business Adelaide Solar Safe, with panels and inverters distributed through local solar distributor Oz Roll Industries. The inverters are manufactured by Schneider Electric.

Established in 1934, Charlesworth Nuts operates several retail outlets and also has a purpose-built manufacturing site in Marion, which has become the head office and processing and distribution centre.

This site was expanded approximately six years ago to take on an adjoining block and create more room for the operations. With this expansion and rising electricity costs, the company was looking for ways to reduce their energy costs, and also to appeal to the more environmentally conscious consumer.

The solar solution, implemented by Adelaide Solar Safe, has achieved both of these outcomes.

According to Andy Turner from Adelaide Solar Safe, the energy produced by the solar solution at Charlesworth Nuts is a perfect fit for the company. As the power needs of the factory increase in the lead-up to Christmas, which is the factory’s busiest time, the solar power system will be generating higher yields as a result of increased solar irradiance levels. Additionally, the warmer months have higher electricity usage as the company uses its cool rooms more to keep their perishables safe and run the air conditioners.

Patrons visiting the retail store located at the factory and office complex are also able to see how the solar system is operating in real time, thanks to the remote monitoring software on display.

Stace Tzamtzidis, Director of Business Development Oceania, Solar Business, Schneider Electric observes that they have an ongoing focus to provide renewable and solar energy solutions to their customers; Charlesworth Nuts is setting an example of how businesses in South Australia and beyond can implement energy saving solutions across their business and then reap the rewards.

Update provided by Power & Drive Renewable Solutions

Orrin Xu, Technical Specialist, comments:

PowerDrive Renewable Solutions"We were heavily involved in this project and believe that the article does not truly reflect what happened. Prior to the engagement of our service, Charlesworth Nuts was obviously looking at putting solar in.

"Unfortunately after SAPN came back with its network study, it was revealed that the entire area had high grid voltages due to the amount of residential solar systems in the area reverse powering into the grid.

"Additionally the site was at the limit of its transformer therefore would not be able to feed back any excess power into the grid. At this stage, SAPN indicated that a transformer upgrade would be required at a cost to Charlesworth Nuts in the order of $80,000.

"As you may or may not be aware, there isn’t a no-export requirement in South Australia for solar. However we approached SAPN to determine whether an alternative solution was possible.

"This solution was a mains protection system with full power control of the inverters to match output of the system to the required amount of the site.

"The inverters were controlled over MODBUS via CAT5 and our control system was able to control output of the site down to a 1kW step. SAPN was invited a functional demonstration at our R&D office and after extensive tests accepted this alternative in lieu of a transformer upgrade.

"Unfortunately due to the nature of the communications system, the initial proposed monitoring solution (SolarLog) could not be used as each inverter only had one communications port and the solution we provided acted as the MODBUS master.

"Therefore at the request of the client, we built a fully integrated monitoring system into the device that utilised the Local Area Network and provided similar functionality that of SolarLog.

"At the end of the day, Charlesworth nuts saved themselves over $50,000 in infrastructure upgrade costs utilising our solution which provided a high performance solution to suit their needs.

"I hope this sheds more light on the site and demonstrates how the full solution solved a major problem for Charlesworth Nuts."

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