S.A.F.E Engineering is home to the second largest photovoltaic solar array in New Zealand.
It can produce 62.4 kW from 360 solar panels.
Whether you believe in Global Warming or not doesn’t change the fact that businesses throughout the industrialised world are implementing policies and principles of Sustainability with Renewable Resources. South Auckland Forging Engineering Ltd (S.A.F.E Ltd) in Drury has risen to the challenge of sustainability by installing the largest photovoltaic solar electricity generating array in New Zealand.
The Solar Generation Project was launched as a result of S.A.F.E Ltd's management questioning how to reduce the ever-increasing electricity bill. Changing to a different supplier was investigated, but would only have decreased the bill by two percent. After further research and getting a number of quotes, the economic advantages of installing solar panels proved convincing.
S.A.F.E Ltd operates a heavy forging plant, a large heat treatment facility, machine shop, metallurgical laboratory and training programme all on the one three-hectare site, to provide a “one stop shop” integrated manufacturing service. With drop-hammers and forging presses to 1200 tons, S.A.F.E Ltd produces specialised, customised, high-integrity product for most industries in New Zealand. Innovation and capacity expansion is a continual development at S.A.F.E Ltd, with a new process for Titanium forging and extrusion currently under construction.
The 68kW solar array has 360 photovoltaic panels with a maximum generation of 62.4kW. Six inverters change this electricity from DC to AC power required for S.A.F.E Ltd’s heat treatment furnaces, forging plant and CNC machines. Any surplus electricity is fed into the National Grid to be on-sold by Meridian Energy. The solar panels are ground-mounted rather than roof-mounted, positioned at a 30 degree angle for maximum efficiency.
Obviously solar panels will produce more electricity in summer than in winter, but the solar array is forecast to meet 70 percent of S.A.F.E Ltd’s electrical requirements over a 12 month period. A payback period of 8-9 years, and a return on investment of around nine percent is expected. There are a lot of variables still to be measured and there is some risk associated with increasing lines charges, coupled with reduced buy-back rates. Meridian Energy has gone some way to reducing the risk with a two year contract to buy-back surplus electricity at the same rate as S.A.F.E Ltd purchases it from them.
A major advantage of this solar installation is that S.A.F.E Ltd is able to contribute towards sustainable industry in New Zealand, without it being a huge ongoing financial burden to the company. There has been a significant financial investment required, but there is also a measurable return on investment that is well within the life-span of the solar array. S.A.F.E Ltd looks forward to progressively innovating in order to secure the future sustainability of the company and its customers.