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Keeping up with technology: Leo Pech’s 10kW system which the Barossa grower had installed in February.

Keeping up with technology: Leo Pech’s 10kW system which the Barossa grower had installed in February.

LONG-TIME Grapegrower & Winemaker subscriber and Barossa viticulturist Leo Pech has been in the wine industry since the ’50s and says solar photovoltaic units are the way of the future due to the anticipated rise in electricity costs.

Planet Power’s Chris Noth installed an AC high-tech 10kW TRUAC solar system on Pech’s shed in February and for a grapegrower who’s seen it all, he says solar power is one of the best things to happen to the wine industry.

Pech has been a subscriber of Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine since its inception in 1963 and has been an important figure in the Barossa wine industry for more than 50 years.

Now as a retired viticulturist, Pech has kept up-to-date with the changing technology as a way to become more environmentally friendly.

Pech says with electricity costs becoming too expensive, there was no better time to go solar.

“I turned to AC rather than DC because it gives more power per unit and also allows you to monitor whether every panel is working 100 per cent efficient or not” he says.

The solar unit was installed by Barossa-based solar company Planet Power and while Pech has only had it for a short while, he says the benefits will far outweigh its hefty price tag.

“It’s too early to say that it has already benefitted me, but stats state the obvious – solar is clearly the way to go,” he says.

“Apart from a high input of power, this is the major advantage of it and is the thing that influenced me to go AC.”

Leo Pech in his vineyard during harvest in 2012.

Leo Pech in his vineyard during harvest in 2012.

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

While most wineries and vineyards are turning to solar for a better, cleaner future, Pech says the industry still faces problems which will continue for years to come.

He says since 60 per cent of Australia’s production is exported and the Australian dollar remains high, it will be difficult for exports to be profitable in the future.

“Bearing in mind the world has almost had a 300 million hectolitre harvest for 2013, the world’s consumption will be roughly 245 million hectolitres for the year which will make the world oversupplied by 22 per cent in one year,” he says.

“On top of that, it appears the EU will be expanding by a further half a million hectares from 2015 and over a period of 15 years this will be equal to the total production of Australia, Chile and South Africa.”

With the world increasing its production in the future and the volume of consumption being relatively static, Pech sees this as a big issue for the Australian wine industry.

“I can see that with the high Australian dollar, Australia will have further difficulties in exporting in the long distance future,” he says.

“Not only do we have problems with the high stock ratio today, it will remain a trouble for many years.”

He added that for the first time, it appears Spain’s tonnage will outdo Italy, so Australia is facing a future it has never seen.

“The Australian wine industry is facing an unknown future, as this situation has not occurred in the history of the industry.”

Contact:

Leo Pech

Phone: 61 8 8564 2327

Email: leopech@bigpond.com

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