Off-grid winery

Discussion in 'Canada' started by sly_karma, Apr 27, 2017.

  1. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    Design on new boutique winery project I just signed up has taken a left turn. The buildings are small and inexpensive, but they are several hundred metres from existing power and water utilities. Costs for trenching (including road crossing), pull boxes, transformer, water lines etc are looking like roughly $75K. Plans already included ground source field under car park to power heating and cooling system. Data on existing wells in area suggests we'll find water at about 70 m down, maybe a $10-15K installation. So I have about $60K to play with - could we build a solar array with batteries and inverters and go off grid? Owners are interested - if it's close to cost neutral. Every new brand needs something to differentiate it from its competitors and this could be it.

    The site has no terrain shading as you'd expect for a vineyard in a high-latitude location. The design has one building with its roof facing due south with a 45 degree slope, area of roughly 85 sq m. Two buildings of 90 sq m each, 5 m apart, one for production, one for cellar door. Heat loads are modest since there's geothermal to run a ductless split system. Most of the load will be in summer for AC in the tasting room; temps over 35 are normal for 2-3 weeks a year plus another 3-4 weeks of 30-35. Tasting room is closed from mid October to mid April. The wines are being crushed and pressed at a neighbouring property with just fermentation and ageing on site to satisfy licencing requirements - so no need for three phase power.

    Now I have to hustle and pull some rough numbers together so owners can make decisions in time to incorporate all this into site planning. Building permit lands in maybe 3 weeks and we'll need functional building for production by end of September. The big unknown is how much of a standalone off grid PV system can we get for $60K?
     
  2. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    Hmmm, well estimate a lot different to expected, $28K plus $12K for hydrogeologist design and testing to satisfy health authority (because of public occupancy). Not much left over for solar...
     
  3. piolet

    piolet Old And Crusty
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    How'd it go through winter? Backup gens? Or mostly shut down and low draw?
     
  4. hipo

    hipo Dedicated Member
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    Any grants or tax rebates for start up business availale to offset costs maybe allowing for short term loan to cover install?
     
  5. northsail

    northsail Dedicated Member

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    My neighbour has just put in a solar system on a rural property to supply new house and car. $100,000++
     
  6. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    Tasting room will be open mid April to mid Oct, long daylight hours and little cloud then. Through the cooler months, production building is still operating, but heat loads are modest as the cellar should be around 16 C rather than the 21-22 C most people keep their homes at. The must chiller/heater can be run from the geo system too.
     
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  7. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    Not surprised, and the off grid dream got less attainable as soon as I saw that well estimate.
     
  8. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    Researching at present. There's a little bit around but the main push is in residential, and more directed at energy efficient envelope rather than specifically solar. We could certify through Net Zero programme for commercial buildings.
     
  9. currawong

    currawong Old And Crusty
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    No idea about costs and technology, but is it a differentiator that would play well with the target market? To me the message would be "zealots who put green credentials ahead of wine quality", but I'm a cynical old curmudgeon. I sometimes buy wine despite it being organic or preservative free, never because of it.
    If there were 2 wineries next to each other and i only had time to go to one, without any other info i would choose the one that didn't promote itself as off-grid, organic etc
     
  10. Draizuh

    Draizuh Dedicated Member

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    What about a wind turbine?
     
  11. benchives

    benchives Part of the Furniture
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  12. teckel

    teckel Old And Crusty
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    I've just put in a solar array to my shop (large area, ex small supermarket). (Yes, I'm on the grid) Leasing the system which should totally cover my power needs for 9 months of the year (excluding winter) for $190/month. My current power bills are about $200/month. (I run 3 freezers and 2 fridges, no aircon). I would think it would be possible. Get quotes. Maybe ensure there's contingency for a diesel generator backup.
     
    #12 teckel, Apr 29, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017
  13. dawooduck

    dawooduck Pool Room
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    Must be a BIG system ...
     
  14. Seth

    Seth Old And Crusty
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    You're assuming they would use it as a promotional tool rather than just being something that enables them to turn the lights on.
     
  15. northsail

    northsail Dedicated Member

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    HUGE! Batteries were the big expense from memory. I think it had to be HUGE to charge his car.
     
  16. currawong

    currawong Old And Crusty
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    I was responding to this bit of OP
     
  17. Seth

    Seth Old And Crusty
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    Fair call then.

    I would question whether it is a differentiating item these days anyway.
     
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  18. dawooduck

    dawooduck Pool Room
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    A garage full of batteries, one with wheels
     
  19. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    No, full off grid solar for a commercial building would be a big deal. Still a lot of numbers to settle yet. Electrical trenching came in a lot less than I'd thought, we'll see what conduit, pull boxes and transformer base cost. Lot less money if they go with a panels to grid system, the inverters and batteries are a serious cost.
     
  20. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    Rough numbers from electrical contractor today on solar. Costs for supply, install and connect are in the $2.75-3.00 per watt range for return-to-grid system, $4.50-5.00 if we go with inverters and batteries. The roof space we have available will generate 12 kW, so with sundries we're looking at costs of around $40K (on grid) or $60K (off grid). Because we'll have a nice shiny metal roof behind it, I've asked him to look into double sided panels which should add about 15-20% more output.

    Electrical utility designer came out today and sketched up rough design. 350 m of conduits and trenching along a pretty narrow tractor road, with all the costs that adds. Then the transformer base and transformer, pull boxes, meter, etc. I can see now that water makes more sense in a separate trench with the phone/cable conduits. Not hard to see my original WAG of $75K being too far off, so potentially solar could actually be cheaper.
     
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  21. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    I guess i should have updated this thread... we decided to go off grid solar. It was an easy decision at the end of a lot of hard work. Research and decision making on HVAC system, production equipment loads, lighting, grid connection costs, etc took a lot of time and effort. In the end, trenching and connection to grid and the privilege of a monthly power bill would have cost $70-75K. Quote for standalone solar system came to $80K. That included installation, three phase converter, standby generator and transfer switching. (. Easy choice when the paydown is less than five years.

    The project is well along, buildings are being gyprocked at the moment and the solar panels have arrived. They'll be installed as soon as the roofers are complete, they are 280W units and we have 39 of them for an array of 11 kW. We created a large cupboard for the 24 hefty batteries and have vented it to the exterior.

    I guess we're not completely off grid. In the end the cost of connection to municipal water supply was just half of the well estimate, and of course there are no guarantees with a well. There is a 4000L LPG tank already in place 40 m from the winery (to power a wind machine that moves air around when there is a risk of frost), way too convenient. We will use it to power on demand hot water heater and a standby generator to charge batteries when needed.
     
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