Industrial self-consumption. Solar energy.

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THE SUN. HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS INEXHAUSTIBLE SOURCE OF NATURAL ENERGY?

Having a certain environmental awareness is not only about adopting sustainable habits such as producing ecological fruits or recycling our own waste, it is also about using renewable and self-generated energy. That is why, at Bionest, we are proud to announce that we have completed our first season generating and consuming our own energy and, thanks to this, we are taking another step towards reducing our CO2 footprint in our daily activity.

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After trying for several years, in May 2020 we finally installed the photovoltaic modules that cover our facilities and, today, we can’t be prouder of the step we took 12 months ago.

Below we will explain in more detail the effects we have had on our environment thanks to the use of this natural and renewable resource that is solar energy.

INDUSTRIAL SELF-CONSUMPTION. CLEAN ENERGY.

Solar energy is a renewable and inexhaustible source that we are still not using to its maximum capacity. It allows an efficient use of energy, taking into account the care of the environment. This type of clean energy is an alternative to the use of non-renewable energies such as fossil fuels or nuclear energy.

There is a tendency to relate the uses of energy generated by solar panels to household chores, but over the years a great deal of research has been carried out to take advantage of energy from the sun in other areas such as transport, agriculture, public lighting, industry, etc.

This type of energy harnessed for industrial use is called industrial self-consumption and is what we currently use in our facilities.

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After decades of experience as wholesalers and distributors of organic red fruits, the results obtained in reducing our environmental impact over the years have encouraged us to continue investing in this type of energy applied to organic agriculture.

Industrial self-consumption is a form of photovoltaic self-consumption but oriented towards high consumption and generally in three-phase networks. These are solar panel installations (solar farm type), generally on the roof of an industrial building. This way, the space available on roofs is used to generate electricity through solar panels and generate savings on electricity bills for companies that put it into practice. In our case and taking into account our need for refrigeration and freezing of our products (industry), we have very high energy costs because the machinery we need to keep the cold temperatures remains in operation 24 hours a day. For this reason, this photovoltaic installation provides us with countless advantages, especially in terms of reducing our environmental impact.

For the production process of our organic berries (organic strawberry, organic raspberry, organic blueberry, organic blackberry), we renew all our certifications annually and ensure the organic traceability of all our products. However, although it is not a prerequisite, the investment and effort to increase our capacity to generate our own sustainable energy is fundamental and decisive for a harmonious coexistence with nature.

In our case, through the company I+D ENERGÍAS, they carried out several consumption studies before proposing the best solution, as the aim is to adapt, as far as possible, the production curve of the photovoltaic installation to the consumption curve.

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BENEFITS OF SOLAR ENERGY AND RENEWABLE ENERGIES.

After a first year of use, we can affirm that there are many benefits that the implementation of solar panels has brought us, but among all of them, the following are worth highlighting:

  • Renewable and inexhaustible. The sun pours an annual amount of energy that would represent 4,500 times the energy we consume, which means that we have an abundant and renewable source of energy.

Moreover, the sun is expected to be with us for millions of years, and the energy it pours into the planet every day is far more than we need to supply our needs, the challenge is to design systems that make the most out of this resource.

Solar technology takes advantage of the solar radiation obtained from the sun, and its photovoltaic cells and self-consumption systems transform this energy into electricity, allowing us to consume it in single-family homes, private homes or for industrial energy purposes.

  • Avoiding climate change. Among other benefits for the environment, solar energy helps to reduce CO2 emissions , by avoiding the emission of polluting gases that are harmful to humans and life on the planet.
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These gases are produced directly by our dependence on fossil fuels to generate energy, which generates high levels of carbon dioxide and pollution, and is one of the main causes of climate change.

The carbon footprint that solar technology leaves on the planet is 2.1 grams, which is 14 times less than that of other renewable energies. Within this data, all the emissions produced during the entire manufacturing process are included, from obtaining the materials for its manufacture, to transport or manufacturing.

  • It avoids ecological degradation. Solar energy generates a much lower environmental impact than its renewable sisters, since due to its capacity to adapt to the environment, its materials, and the way it obtains energy, this technology hardly generates any impact on the environment where it is installed.
  • It reduces health risks. CO2 emissions not only cause climate change or the greenhouse effect, they are also harmful to life on the planet. The gases are generated when fossil fuels are burned, and the high presence of these gases has been directly linked to various respiratory and cardiac problems.

Solar energy contributes to cleaner air by reducing nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and other harmful materials, which pose a risk to life and cause many health problems for people.

  • It benefits biodiversity. The areas where solar installations are located, not only do not affect life in the ecosystem where they are located, but in many cases the panel itself is a refuge for some animals.

Some studies carried out on solar installations in natural environments show how different species of plants and animals are integrated around the panels in photovoltaic parks, without affecting their correct development and expansion.

On the other hand, solar parks favour the settlement of rare autochthonous species, as they are used in large extensions for agricultural use (to guarantee that the soil remains intact, without fertilisers or pesticides for production).

However, it should be noted that for all these scenarios to occur, installations must be located in the right places, and their installation must not require the removal or deforestation, or occupation of land under environmental protection, a real risk if renewables become a bubble.

  • Affordability. Technological development and political campaigns aimed at favouring renewables have made the current price of a self-consumption installation much more
    affordable today.

This means that it is becoming increasingly natural to see solar panels on the roofs of single-family homes, neighbourhood communities and other types of installations for private use.

There is still a long way to go in the industrial sector, but it is expected that in the coming years the use of solar energy will become more widespread in industry, especially taking into
account all the savings and consumption benefits that it can bring to companies, both big and small.

  • Use of surplus energy generated. Legislative changes regarding solar energy and the sun tax mean that it is now possible to have installations connected to the grid or
    independent, and in any of these cases, the use of batteries allows us to take advantage of the excess energy generated at times of the day when production peaks may occur.

Simplified compensation, in installations connected to the grid, allows all the energy that is not consumed to be fed into the grid, and is compensated on the next bill, which can mean savings of up to 70%.

RESULTS AT BIONEST

As a result of this first season, as producers of red berries, and taking into account that we supply organic berries to large areas all over Europe, the energy effort is noticeable. This is why we are very satisfied with the results obtained, as we have not only contributed to the conservation of our surroundings and the environment with the aspects mentioned above, but also the energy production has exceeded expectations.

From the production point of view, we have been able to verify that the self-consumption installation has supported 31.04% of the total energy consumed by our facilities. In addition to this, we are enormously satisfied to see that the use of this solar energy through the photovoltaic panels installed has been 99.5%. This implies an almost total utilisation rate.

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With this data and the experience gained after this first year of testing, we expect an improvement in the results in the next campaign and the expansion of our photovoltaic installations in the coming years.

From Bionest, we recommend and encourage all industries in any sector to take this step in sustainability.

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