Mixing renewable energy in the bakery

Rangiora Bakery is operating on 100% renewable energy after 820 solar panels were installed on the roof of its central Rangiora facility.

The panels meet 25% of its energy needs, while the remaining 75% is sourced in partnership with MainPower, of the Kakariki Power Scheme, a small hydroelectric dam near Mt Hutt.

The project, completed in September, is one of the largest ever undertaken by Christchurch-based Fresh Start Electrical.

Rangiora Bakery owner Ron van Til says he’s always looking for opportunities to improve the environmental footprint of his 160-year-old business.

Solar panels were the next logical step after the installation of electric bike chargers at the bakery entrance last year.

”Installing our free e-bike chargers increased our energy consumption, so we thought ‘how can we offset that cost?’ Solar power was the obvious answer.”

The panels are expected to produce more than is needed as summer approaches.

The initial outlay for the solar panel was around half a million dollars, but Mr. van Til expected payback to take just six years, compared to the average payback for 12- to 14-year-old households. years.

“It’s a big initial outlay, but a payback of six years is a good return. The panels also come with a 25 year warranty and after those 25 years the panels are expected to lose only around 15% of their effectiveness. This is a good asset to use.”

As suppliers to various multinational companies, Rangiora Bakery is required to be an environmentally responsible organization and is audited annually on this basis.

Through the audit, to date, the company has been designated as one of the leading companies taking action on positive climate initiatives.

“Many businesses talk about going green, but we chose to take the necessary steps to implement these initiatives.

“While we are required to investigate these opportunities as part of our multinational contracts, there is also a level of social responsibility that we take seriously.”

Van Til said that other companies considering the switch to solar power should definitely consider it.

“MainPower was fantastic to work with and they are looking forward to doing more solar installations in North Canterbury. Also, there are local North Canterbury companies that provide solar installation, so you can support the locals at all times.”

Mr van Til says there are no government subsidies that he’s aware of to help companies with investment, but some installation companies will offer a lease-and-buy type of setup, alleviating the initial cost outlay.

Rangiora Bakery is not the first large-scale company in Waimakariri to invest in solar power. Misco Joinery installed 535 panels on the roof of its Kaiapoi factory in 2019.

At the time, it was the largest solar power system in Canterbury. The system provides up to 70% of the power requirements for the showroom and workshop at Misco Joinery, which is the largest automated facility in the South Island.

Misco Joinery’s Penny Abell says the facility has proven valuable to the business.

”In our showroom we have displays showing how many trees we have saved and our carbon emissions reduced by using solar power. This is a great talking point with customers, but it also shows us the impact we are having.”

Penny says the next green addition to the business will be an electric vehicle charging point that will run on solar power generated by the panels.

Additionally, Misco Joinery is in the process of obtaining its Toitu Enviromark Certification; an accreditation that requires constant efforts and audits to achieve and maintain a credible environmental management system.

“For any business that is thinking of investing in solar energy, we would tell them to do it. It has many benefits”.

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