Drinks manufacturer to harness solar power at Queensland facility

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As part of a push to reduce energy costs for the company, drinks making giant Suntory Oceania will install a 3.2 MW rooftop solar system comprising 7,000 solar panels atop its new manufacturing and distribution centre being built near Ipswich in Queensland’s southeast.

The PV system, being installed by Victoria-based EPC provide Next Generation Electrical, is part of a unique power package that will allow the Swanbank facility to operate with 100% renewable energy and serve as a benchmark for the company’s sustainability ambitions.

Suntory Director of Sustainability Ian Goldschmidt said in addition to the rooftop solar, the package includes a power purchase agreement with Queensland government-owned energy company CleanCo that will deliver up to 11 GW of renewable energy.

Goldschmidt said Suntory will also install a “clean and efficient” biomass boiler at the new facility that will use offcuts from the local sawmill as fuel to generate heat for the site’s manufacturing heating requirements.

“And then we’ve gone the next step and put an organic rankine cycle generator on the end of the boiler that takes any waste heat from that boiler and also generates electricity, another 2 MW,” he said.

Suntory Chief Supply Chain Officer Ian Roberts said the combination of solar, biomass and renewable energy will help the company with its strategy of being carbon neutral by 2050.

“Suntory has taken every opportunity to use leading technology and set new standards for sustainable manufacturing in Australia,” he said.

Suntory, which makes beverages spanning the premium spirits, juice, soft drinks, coffee, and sports drinks categories, said the system will power the production of more than 20 million cases of beverages a year, once the site is operational.

The facility is expected to begin non-alcohol production in mid-2024, with alcohol production commencing in the following year.

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