Casella Family Brands has made a major step towards its goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, unveiling one of Australia’s largest solar power facilities to power its production facility in Yenda, NSW.

The Yenda facility processes and bottles the majority of Casella Family Brands’ wines, and the on-site brewery produces key Australian Beer Co. brands such as Son of a Nun and Pressman’s Cider. The electricity usage was determined to be the largest source of direct greenhouse gas emissions, and the solar farm will provide approximately 30 per cent of the total power required.

The solar farm is situated on an 11-hectare plot around three kilometres from the Yenda facility. The plot was unsuitable for grape growing, but following a Biodiversity Assessment and Aboriginal Heritage Due Diligence Assessment, the site was deemed suitable for a solar farm.

The solar farm is state of the art, with a two-panel tracking system and a smart algorithm that determines the best direction for the panels to get the most power. It comprises 8730 solar panels which are capable of producing 11.53 GWh of electricity per year, enough to power around 1900 Australian homes and offsetting 7800 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. According to solar energy market analyst SunWiz, the solar farm is the largest solar facility in the Australian beverage industry in terms of potential energy production.

Casella has also invested in a second solar system which will provide approximately 30 per cent of the power for the wastewater treatment plant at the Yenda brewery, with a potential generating capacity of 890.47 MWh per year.

John Casella, Founder and Managing Director of Casella Family Brands said that this is a major milestone for the business and a significant step forward in its pursuit of sustainability.

“I’m extremely proud to unveil our investment in clean electricity through our two new solar systems. As well as reducing our footprint, we are making a direct contribution to the Australian wine industry’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals via the products we make and supply, as we all strive to ensure a sustainable global wine sector.

“As a family-owned business, we’re committed to playing a role in ensuring the resilience of the Australian wine industry for generations to come. This includes investing in the regions where we operate, supporting our growers during challenging market conditions and making strategic decisions to ensure our business is set up for long-term success,” he said.

Casella Family Brands worked with Next Generation Electrical for the project, which took two years to complete. Next Generation Electrical Founder and CEO Peter Summers congratulated Casella on the milestone.

“It takes real leadership to be able to do something like this, and John’s insight and ability to lead the industry was really shown here today,” he said on the day the solar farm was switched on.

Mark Kozlowski, Casella Family Brands Head of Commercial and Head of Sustainability, spoke about the business’s commitment to sustainability.

“It only seems fitting that the sun, which is so important in growing our ingredients, will now be used to produce those ingredients into drinks enjoyed by people in over 60 countries around the world. This is a significant initiative for our company that will not only change the way that we produce wine and beer, but also contribute to our sustainability goals and our net zero target. It’s going to set a powerful example within the drinks industry, and one we hope that our people, local community, customers and consumers can be proud of,” he said.

Some of Casella’s other sustainability initiatives include the Yenda brewery wastewater treatment facility, lightweighting of glass bottles, reducing plastic waste, and repurposing wine by-products. Casella is also reestablishing native plant populations, which reduces water needs for grapevines as well as promoting a healthy ecosystem.

These initiatives are informed by Casella’s three sustainability pillars of Connected Communities, Protecting the Planet, and achieving Better Things Together.

“We’re Australia’s largest family-owned drinks business. We recognise that what we make and how we make it affects the planet and the people in and around our business. These pillars are going to drive the long-term targets and activities that will shape our environment and the business for the future,” Kozlowski said.

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