Meat production facility installs Australia’s second biggest rooftop PV array

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Hilton Foods Australia has taken a major step towards reducing its electricity bills and environmental footprint at its new meat processing plant in Heathwood with the installation of a massive rooftop array. Touted as Australia’s second-largest privately-owned rooftop PV array, the 2.1 MW installation is expected to provide around 50% of the site’s energy needs.

Featuring Talesun Mono 300 W modules and Solar Edge SE82.8K inverters, the installation was delivered by EPC contractor Solgen Energy Group. It is expected to produce 3.2 GWh of clean electricity and save 2500 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. The company said it had decided to deploy thousands of solar panels on the facility’s rooftop in order to reduce its dependence on the grid and its carbon footprint.

The facility has also deployed an automated heat recovery system to harness heat from the facility’s refrigeration compressors. The system will see 100,000 litres of water heated per day, saving 170 MWh of energy a year. “This facility is not only setting new sustainable building standards but is bringing jobs to our region with potential for more, which is fantastic,” Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said at the recent opening. Namely, the Heathwood plant has created more than 650 new jobs, with more on the cards when it ramps up to full production next year.

“This is one of the most innovative facilities of its kind in the world and a real showpiece of advanced food manufacturing in Queensland,” said Minister for State Development and Manufacturing Cameron Dick. “Workers will operate robotics and man 23 state-of-the-art production lines to provide packaged meat and vegan products to Woolworths supermarkets locally and interstate.”

For the London Stock Exchange-listed food packaging business, the Heathwood facility is particularly special for the size of its rooftop PV installation. Previously, Hilton Food has installed a 190 kWp system on its seafood division Seachill in Grimsby and a 130 kWp on its central meat packing facility in Huntingdon, both in the U.K. The company says it is now “exploring other opportunities globally to take a leading sustainable position for the business”.