IMPROVING INSULATION

Profile
Stellar Organics
Product focus: Grapes & wine
Location: Klawer, South Africa
Type: Hired labour
Contact: Veronique Verlinden – v.verlinden@fairtradeafrica.net

Challenge:

In South Africa coal is used as the main energy source to generate electricity. Unfortunately, it is generally considered as the dirtiest form of generating power. Winery Stellar Organics is located in the Western Cape, where during summer months temperatures can soar. The amount of energy required to keep its wine at the right temperature is very high. The organisation’s decision to reduce its carbon footprint not only originated from environmental concerns, it also made perfect business sense.

Solution:

For wine to mature properly, it must be left to sit undisturbed for long periods of time at the right temperature and humidity. Stellar Organics understood that the most cost-effective way of creating a perfect environment was by improving the insulation of the wine cellar. This would not only save on electrical costs, but also would also enhance the quality of its Fairtrade products.

The winery decided to opt for spray foam insulation. As a first step, an insulating white foam is being applied to the inside panels of the roof and walls of the cellar. This material will then be coated with a non-porous sealer to protect the foam. This second layer prevents moister and other contaminants damaging the insulation foam, especially when the cellar is being cleaned. Both the white foam and the sealer are made from polyurethane, a durable and flexible synthetic material. The project is currently taking place and will be finished later this year.

Cost:

The cost of the operation was a little over 800,000 South African Rand (ZAR) (or 115,000 USD) – including the acquisition of all materials and the application.

Results:

An independent engineer calculated that the insulation will save over 65% on energy or a total of 147,600 Kilowatt annually. With electricity costs in South Africa being 0.50 ZAR per kilowatt hour (Kw-h) (or USD 0.07/Kw hour), Stellar Organics will be saving 75 000 ZAR (or 10,900 USD) a year, in addition to the environmental advantages of not having to generate the saved electricity. But there are other benefits which have indirect financial implications:

-          Wine operations can be speeded up as the wine tanks are now in still air because the temperatures between the outside atmosphere and the tank are now closer.

-          Hygiene in the cellar can meet international standards as contaminants are not blown into the work area.

-          The cooling system is not working against the external environment and is more efficient, saving even more energy. Moreover, the life of the cooling system is extended because it is not working so hard.

But the most important result of the whole operation is that all these benefits are expected to have a positive impact on the quality of Stella Organics wines. The insulation project is a win-win situation on all fronts.