Market gardener fast-tracking plans to shrink carbon footprint

The JS Ewers operation on the Waimea Plains includes 12ha of hothouses.
SUPPLIED The JS Ewers operation on the Waimea Plains includes 12ha of hothouses.

Tasman District-based market gardener JS Ewers plans a series of large-scale projects to help reduce its on-farm energy emissions by 99 per cent over the next couple of years.

Those projects include the installation of a new biomass-fuelled plant to replace an existing coal boiler, conversion to wood pellets on smaller sites and retrofitting thermal screens to enhance energy efficiency. The total spend is estimated to be about $8.6 million.

Operating on the Waimea Plains, near Nelson, JS Ewers produces tomatoes, eggplants and capsicums in 12ha of hothouses. It also has 19 lines of outdoor vegetables on 220ha.

Co-funding of $4.078m was announced on Thursday for the JS Ewers projects, from round one of the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (EECA)-administered Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry Fund.​

JS Ewers general manager Pierre Gargiulo says the projects will help the business significantly reduce its carbon footprint.
SUPPLIED JS Ewers general manager Pierre Gargiulo says the projects will help the business significantly reduce its carbon footprint.

JS Ewers general manager Pierre Gargiulo​ said the “growing operation” embraced sustainability and the latest co-funded projects would allow the business to fast-track its energy strategy, which was built around improving efficiency and reducing emissions

“We have been driving a decarbonisation strategy for a number of years, having already made significant investment in the energy metering, thermal screens and a ring-main and buffer tank system,” Gargiulo said. “Working alongside EECA to co-fund the next phase will enable us to accelerate our progress.”

The business’ carbon footprint would be reduced significantly by switching to the use of a biomass system with renewable fuel for heat generation, “while also introducing projects to improve the energy performance of existing assets”.

Those co-funded projects were scheduled to start in April and be completed by October 2022.

JS Ewers employs 150 permanent staff and 40 seasonal employees. It is owned by Market Gardeners Ltd (MG Marketing), a co-operative owned by 400 grower shareholders.

The market gardener was one of 14 successful applicants in round one of the Government’s Decarbonising Industry Fund. They are to receive a total of $22.88m in co-funding to help them move away from fossil fuels.

Energy and Resources Minister Dr Megan Woods said the decarbonisation fund provided “crucial financial support to business and industry to help them switch from boilers run on coal and gas to cleaner electricity and biomass options”.

“This helps create jobs in the clean energy sector, and future-proofs our economy,” Woods said. “The 14 projects … will achieve up to 10 per cent of the gross long-lived emission reductions required from the Climate Commission’s first draft carbon budget for the period 2022-25 – the same as taking 49,000 cars off the road.”

Environment Minister David Parker said decarbonising process heat was one of the biggest opportunities for New Zealand to reduce its domestic energy emissions, “and will make a significant contribution to New Zealand’s 2050 net zero carbon target”.

Source: CHERIE SIVIGNON • SENIOR REPORTER STUFF cherie.sivignon@stuff.co.nz

https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/124793460/market-gardener-fasttracking-plans-to-shrink-carbon-footprint

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