Southern Plants: Renewable Energy and Plant Production

Monday, March 7, 2022
Commercial
by
Veli Markovic

Introduction

The horticultural industry is traditionally a large consumer of electricity, irrigation, pumps and potting machines impose a heavy load that comes at a cost. 

Greenwood Solutions liaised with Mark, GM of Southern plants, down on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula and designed and installed a commercial solar system to service the site loads directly but with the plan that a battery storage system will aLso be installed down the track.

The Client

Mark is the general manager of Southern Plants and he's part of a generational horticultural family. Southern plants is a large wholesale production nursery located in Dromana which grows mostly outdoor plants, most of which are native.

Scale of the business

They have a really big focus on what works best for their customers in New South Wales,  Victoria,  South Australia and Tasmania, growing  about seven or eight hundred different products for the market and selling approximately 2 million plants per year.

The business was established in 1946 and the reason the family initially got into the nursery industry was after WWII Mark’s grandfather had a spare block of land and as he was growing up in a market garden area, rather than get into vegetables with everyone else he decided to diversify a little bit and got into creating flowering plants.

A plant production approach and the environment

Traditionally wholesale plant nurseries have been seen as farms and Southern Plants have tried to break that mold and move into a more manufacturing mindset.

Customers nowadays are looking for their suppliers to be more environmentally conscious and sustainable and the nursery industry is no exception.

In addition to solar, Mark has instigated a lot of other sustainability measures such as the  use of fully recycled pots, labels being recycled and we're also talking about the efficient resource management of that most important of resources being water.


Why solar now?

Mark has been wanting to put solar on the property for a long time and it makes him proud to finally see it on the roofs and producing the electricity which means they're not drawing as much from the grid as previously.

Part of the 50 kW system installed by Greenwood over two roofs

The biggest consumers of electricity

The site runs  assembly lines with potting machines, conveyors and just general machinery and lighting to keep everything going in the potting shed as well as the stock preparation  and distribution shed and these are the primary day time electricity ‘culprits’.

But the biggest single machinery drawer is from the irrigation pumps that run overnight and in the early morning when the sun's down and in time Southern Plants are excited to be able to pair battery technology with the newly installed solar system.

A complete approach

When it comes to actually commercial solar it's not just about plonking panels on a roof or on the ground. It really is a case of analyzing what's going on with the loads, when they're on, what they are, how large they are and how we can directly negate the use of grid electricity through a correctly designed commercial solar system.

Southern Plants is a solutions based process driven company and Greenwood Solutions was a natural fit as both companies  focus on what the customers' current needs are now as well as understanding future needs.

If you’d like to see more of what Greenwood Solutions get up to in the real world of renewable energy, solar, battery storage and grid protection check out our industry and commercial pages:

https://www.greenwoodsolutions.com.au/industry 

https://www.greenwoodsolutions.com.au/commercial

https://www.greenwoodsolutions.com.au/news

https://www.greenwoodsolutions.com.au/commercial/customer-stories


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About the author

Veli Markovic

CEC Designer
Veli has nearly two decades of experience in the renewable industry. He is passionate about providing people with valuable education and is highly regarded throughout the industry as an educator and operator.
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