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Powering up Arataki

Thanks to an abundance of Hawke’s Bay sunlight, Arataki will halve its annual power bill through a new solar power installation at its production plant in Havelock North.

Managers Pam and Rhys Flack say the move to solar energy is another important step in Arataki’s commitment towards improving its environmental footprint.

“We’re also making processing changes to favour daytime power usage, rather than at night, to maximise the benefits of the installation. We’re aiming to halve our $50,000 annual power bill with around seven years’ payback on the capital cost,” they say.

Given the seasonal nature of Arataki’s production, it dovetails into the peak solar generation months. During winter, it expects to need a small power top-up but in spring and summer, excess power will be fed into the national grid.

Arataki hopes that its solar power investment will also pave the way for more businesses to follow, from seeing the environmental benefits and energy cost savings.

“We can all play a part in working towards a goal of national carbon neutrality. The more industries and businesses that take advantage of the benefits of solar power, the less demand on national power generation,” they say.

The solar panels have a new bifacial feature to increase the energy produced – they produce power from both (not just one) sides of the panel. The first 88 solar panels are on the north-facing 600 square metre beekeeping and storage facility and a further 169 panels cover the production and packing plant.

The project, undertaken by Hawke’s Bay business Ecoefficient Solutions NZ, took just to install and fully commission in time for the busy spring pollination and honey seasons.

Ecoefficient Solutions managing director Laura Kerr says she’s seen a big change in mindset from business owners compared to three years ago when solar was basically “not even on the radar”.

“Hawke’s Bay and our abundance of sunlight hours makes solar power one of the best ways we can help towards reducing our carbon footprint as a region.

“Arataki is leading by example and the project is a fantastic opportunity to help showcase the benefits and proven cost savings, so we can encourage more and more businesses to invest in solar,” she says.

The investment in solar power at the Havelock North site complements the Arataki Honey Rotorua operation, where all its processing energy has been geothermal since the early 1960s.

Arataki Honey is also investing in more sustainable packaging options and recently introduced a cardboard one-kilogram pot for its most popular Clover Blend Honey.

Arataki is always looking at ways it can contribute to environmental sustainability. “The solar power project and the cardboard pack are two significant steps in our journey,” says Rhys.

Arataki Honey’s Education Centre welcomes over 60,000 international and local visitors to its Havelock North site every year. “As part of raising environmental awareness, the centre will now including a Real Time Power Dashboard to show visitors exactly how the solar panels perform.”