Australia is world renowned for the quality of our wine and wine making. But what’s less well known is how wineries manage their single biggest cost - electricity.
Many of us look forward to a well-earned wine at the end of the working week but there’s a huge operation that goes into that colourful liquid in your glass. Harvesting, crushing, fermenting, clarifying, aging, bottling and shipping far and wide. And this labour of love, often years of hard work in the making, requires a lot of energy…both from the winemakers themselves and the electricity they need to create a quality product.
Electricity has been identified as the single largest cost factor for many wine making businesses. It’s estimated that electricity demand costs in wineries account for over 40% percent of total expenditure.
The South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA) advises that refrigeration consumes between 50 -70% of electricity used at a typical winery. During cold stabilisation (the method of exposing wine to freezing temperatures enabling the excess tartrates to crystallise out, lowering the total acidity of the wine), high intensity energy levels are required to chill the wine and maintain it at the required cold stabilisation levels.
Refrigeration systems that have been optimised and automatically controlled tend to consume less electricity per kilolitre (kL) of wine produced than other wineries, according to an industry benchmark report, and so many wineries work diligently with energy partners to optimise their equipment and systems and improve overall performance.
Wine Australia, in their process efficiency report, states that using heat exchangers (a system designed to transfer heat between two fluids to control the temperature of one of the fluids) to recover the low temperatures of freshly stabilised wine can then be used to chill subsequent batches of wine, significantly improving energy efficiency in the process.
As an example of this, De Bortoli Wines, the large wine producers from New South Wales, boosted their cooling capacity and reduced their annual energy usage by around 960MWh or roughly 17%, (and reduced annual emissions by in excess of 800 tonnes) by optimising their refrigeration systems and installing heat exchanger equipment.
The Australian Wine Research Institute has a host of recommendations for winemakers and wineries and some of those include:
- Plant shut-down: during periods when there is no need for refrigeration, running systems in ‘energy saving’ mode can help save considerable amounts of energy
- Night-time grape harvesting: if grapes are harvested at night when it’s cool, there is reduced heat energy in the grapes, which otherwise may have needed to be removed by refrigeration at the winery
- Embracing alternative energy sources: solar PV, cogeneration and battery technology have the potential to make wineries more cost effective and energy efficient
So, before you pop that next cork (or screw cap as the case may be!), spare a thought for our dedicated Aussie wine makers working long and hard to produce one of this country’s finest products. Cheers to them!
*As the system and market operator, we are fuel and technology neutral. The products, services and providers in this content are for illustrative purposes only and are not endorsed by AEMO.