The grape waste powering an energy efficient future
Companies receive many prompts to change their behaviour. An annual energy bill of $3.4 million is one prompt that’s hard to ignore.
Australian Tartaric Products (ATP) is the nation’s largest manufacturer of natural tartaric acid, which plays a key role in the chemical stability, taste and pH of wine. ATP processes waste from the wine-making process, including grape marc, grape lees and sludge, to make a completely natural product from material typically bound for landfill. The company also extracts and converts residual alcohol into potable and low-grade ethanol.
ATP is located in rural Colignan, around 50 kilometres south of Mildura in Victoria. With no access to natural gas, the company relies on trucked-in LPG to ensure its boiler runs 24/7.
“The trend and expectation was that our energy costs would become more and more expensive in years to come,” says ATP General Manager Sam Testa. “So we needed a solution that would reduce our energy costs, and also decrease our carbon emissions.”
In addition, the company needed a way to reduce costs and continue producing high quality tartaric acid to compete with synthetic Chinese imports.
Thanks to a $1.71 million grant from the Australian Government’s Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program, ATP is moving more quickly to address its energy and competition challenges by building a $7.5 million renewable energy plant.
ATP’s burning ambition
The Australian Government funding follows a $1.8 million grant from the Victorian Government’s Regional Infrastructure Development Fund in 2010 for the renewable energy project.
“The Australian Government funding has given us a double boost,” Mr Testa says. “It makes the project much more financially sustainable, and removes a great deal of stress for the organisation.”
The project is expected to reduce the company’s site-wide carbon emissions intensity by 75 per cent, and reduce energy costs by as much as 73 per cent. This represents a reduction in annual energy costs of around $2.4 million.
These results will be achieved by installing a biomass boiler to burn the spent grape marc. The boiler will create the steam required to produce tartaric acid, and decrease the company’s use of LPG by 70 per cent.
In addition, the company is installing Organic Rankine Cycle technology to sit alongside the new boiler. This will take surplus steam produced by the boiler and help generate around 63 per cent of the electricity required for ATP’s operations, and is being supplied by Australian company GT Energy Technologies.
Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program
The Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program is part of the $1.2 billion Clean Technology Program, an initiative under the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future plan. The Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program provides incentives for manufacturing businesses in the food and foundries sectors to invest in energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
The program will award a total of $200 million in grants over six years until 2016–17. It provides funding for projects that improve carbon and energy efficiency. Applicants need to demonstrate their ability to undertake the proposed project and show how it will maintain or improve the competitiveness of their manufacturing business.
With initiatives funded by the grant, Australian Tartaric Products expects to:
- reduce emissions intensity by 75 per cent
- reduce energy costs by 73 per cent
- decrease use of fossil fuels by 70 per cent
- generate around 63 per cent of the company’s electricity needs on site.