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Southern Clams managing director Roger Belton said the company invested $80,000 to have 160 solar panels installed across about 60% of the roof of its plant in Bombay St last month.
Production in the plant increased as days got longer in Dunedin, allowing more time to harvest clams.
Clams needed to be chilled to 2degC before they could be packed, so refrigeration costs increased.
The power bill was also bolstered by showers after a day’s work by the company’s eight clam harvesters.
The solar panels would provide between 12% to 15% of Southern Clam’s energy needs annually — about 0.45GWh a year — the same annual power consumption of about 65 households.
After six weeks of operation under the new solar system, he estimated the annual return on investment capital, based on today’s average energy prices, was up to 6%.
He expected the return on investment to increase as energy costs rose over the more than 30-year lifespan of the technology. When a lack of rainfall drove up the electricity spot price, the savings made from solar system would ‘‘soften’’ the company’s exposure to the volatility of the electricity market and its ‘‘nasty power prices ’’.
A major reason for installing the system was Southern Clams’ commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.
The company used an electric vehicle for local deliveries and was investigating using electric motors on its barges.
He praised co-ordinator EVLution Ltd co-owner Hagen Bruggemann, of Dunedin, for installing the solar system ‘‘ahead of schedule and on budget’’ and for having it produce more energy than was projected.
‘‘It was a pleasant surprise.’’