Scion Vineyard and Winery uses new hybrid energy system to drive business

A RUTHERGLEN winery is tapping into solar power to run its winery operations and cellar door.

Scion Vineyard and Winery’s new hybrid energy system harvests solar energy to provide most of the power needed to run the business. 

Scion’s owner and winemaker Rowly Milhinch said he wanted to be engaged in renewables to provide energy security in future.

“We’re fortunate here in Rutherglen to be drenched in sunshine and as a small business we have a vision for a more environmentally sustainable future, so it made sense to explore solar power as a renewable energy option to meet the power demands of our growing business,” he said.

“Already we’re using the sun to power 90 per cent of what we need.”

The hybrid energy system comprises a solar array, battery storage bank and back-up diesel generator (with the capability to use biodiesel), underpinned by a smart energy management system to maximise efficiency.

Having committed to the hybrid energy concept about 18 months ago, Mr Milhinch said the system had come together during the past two months.

He said the investment would pay for itself within eight years.

“Our hand was forced by rising infrastructure costs; what wasn’t competitive to do three or four years ago is now a viable option,” Mr Milhinch said.

“Our energy bills will be 30 per cent of what they were.

“When we have intense sun, the solar panels will power everything; even in poor weather we’re getting 30 per cent of power driven off the panels.”

Mr Milhinch said the cherry on top was the Tesla charging station, which was installed in the cellar door car park three weeks ago.

He said drivers of Tesla electric vehicles visiting Scion could draw on a renewable energy source.

“The unique thing with our Tesla system is that we’re using renewables to charge the car while they usually use the mains grid,” he said.

Mr Milhinch said the solar panels in a paddock next to the vineyard had already sparked many conversations.

“In the short time we’ve had the solar panels and Tesla charging station in place, it has been a real talking point in cellar door,” he said.

“We’re excited to see so much interest in renewable energy and we’re equally excited about reducing our carbon footprint in crafting our wines.”