Terra Madre is an organic food institution on High Street in Northcote and EnviroGroup were tasked with providing a 8.58kW commercial solar panel installation.
We were excited by the opportunity to work with a well established organic retailer and wholesaler with similar sustainability values. With a goal to making organic food more accessible by removing price barriers, Terra Madre has been serving the local community since 1996.
Solar Panel Installation: The Challenges
As much as we were excited by the opportunity, we also faced significant challenges with the installation. Shopfronts along the High street in Northcote tend to follow a pattern. They are old Victorian era facades with a long two storey box attached to them, constituting of different buildings and over the last 140 years, these buildings have been added to, renovated, gutted and turned inside out. This makes installing solar panels a challenge. However, not impossible.
Terra Madre’s Objective
Terra Madre is a popular place and over the years, much to its credit, the shop has expanded to take over its neighbours and modified interior walls to make everything into one shop space. The largest part of the energy bill for Terra Madre is the enormous refrigeration and air-conditioning loads that are needed to make the shop function.
Even though it’s one shop made up of 101, 103 and 105 High Street, each has its own meter and NMI which means three separate bills and three separate systems! The largest of these bills is a whopping 540kWh/day. The owner, Ryan, coupled with the Terra Madre business principles of sustainability, wanted solar power to be part of their energy mix – not only to make savings but also to reduce their carbon footprint.
The Solar Panel Installation
Noting the challenges and the client’s objective, our team set to work. On the roof, we were faced with multiple shade problems from adjacent structures, chimneys and air-conditioners and also a number of different roof types.
- We maximised the available rooftop with 26 x 330W Trina Honey M Splitmax panels powering a Fronius 7kW SYMO inverter
- The design also featured Tigo optimizers to reduce the periodic shade risk from nearby chimneys and the whole system is monitored by solar analytics
- The solar panel installation reduces about 30kWh/day from the bill and saves the Northcote grocery fixture about $2850 a year with a payback period of 4 years.
Although a relatively small system, our solar installation for Terra Madre illustrated clearly that it is possible to make savings and investing in solar is a sound business decision. Our team at EnviroGroup are here to listen to your needs and objectives. Regardless of the challenges that your building may provide, we will find a customised solution for you.