A renewable energy system being built at McCain’s Ballarat food processing and packaging plant will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 27,000 tonnes, the company says. It will subsidise McCain’s energy consumption by 39 per cent.

The 8.2 megawatt system will use a combination of solar and co-generation technology and will house Australia’s largest “behind-the-meter” renewable energy system, the company said. The solar system was funded through a partnership with Smart Commercial Solar under a power-purchase agreement, financed by renewable investment fund Solar Bay.

The new system comprises a 17,000-panel ground mount and carpark solar array, and a co-generation anaerobic digester that utilises biogas produced by food waste to generate energy.

Together, the two systems will reduce the site’s reliance on natural gas by 16 per cent, and energy consumed from the grid by 39 per cent.

The solar power, which will be generated from unused flat space on existing land surrounding the plant, will also provide three electric charging ports and shaded car spaces.

McCain Foods’ regional president ANZ Louis Wolthers said the system was an example of the company’s sustainability goals to Be Good. Do Good.

“Globally, McCain Foods is committed to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, ceasing any reliance on coal by 2025, and having 100 per cent of our plants powered by renewable electricity by 2030. This project makes a significant contribution to this target,” Wolthers said.

“There has never been a behind-the-meter system this dynamic in Australia, and we believe it will set a precedent for large-scale projects for other major processing businesses.”

Huon Hoogesteger at Smart Commercial Solar said the business was excited to be partnering with McCain Foods.

“We pride ourselves on trust and transparency, and delivery of energy solutions that make great financial, social and environmental investments. We’re proud to be involved in this industry-leading project, and we’re looking forward to seeing this become a commercial reality,” Hoogesteger said. 

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