Carbon-Free Food Deliveries in Melbourne, Australia

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CERES Fair Food wanted to provide carbon-free food deliveries. It had two problems — how to get the most use out of its excess solar output from panels on the warehouse roof and what to do about replacing its two aging delivery vans? Thankfully, CORENA stepped forward and lent CERES Fair Food the money to purchase two Ford eTransit vans and install Zappi solar smart chargers to run them.

It took a lot of thought and some modelling to work out how best to handle the charging — as the vans would be on the road at the times when the solar output was highest and then parked after sunset. Maximising use of their excess solar proved to be not so simple.

Carbon Free Food Deliveries
Solar consumption and charging needs

A compromise was reached, in which the vans were charged before deliveries, during the mid day break time, and in the late afternoon. This resulted in 55% charging from the organization’s own solar panels and 45% from the grid. Further, Victoria’s grid is getting greener each month as more renewables are fed in. This is true about nighttime generation from wind, not just daytime solar. Thus, the social enterprise is moving closer to offering emission-free grocery delivery.

CERES Fair Food delivers organic groceries to households across Melbourne, sourced from over 150 farmers and ethical grocery makers. They support regenerative farming practices and closed-loop waste cycles, provide employment and career pathways for new migrants, and return 100% of profits to CERES environmental education programs.

By the middle of 2022, Fair Food will take delivery of two Ford E-Transit delivery vans, 2 smart solar chargers, and a charger hub. At that time, CORENA will give the org an interest-free loan of approximately $75,000 to help cover the vehicle and charging infrastructure costs. The rest of the funds are coming from a grant. The Ford E-Transit vans are the first of that type of small delivery van to be available here in Australia as an EV. Refrigeration equipment will then be added to both vans.

Ford E-Transit vans have a 68 kWh battery pack and a range of “up to 317 km,” but real-world range figures will inevitably be lower depending on cargo load and driving conditions. CERES is assuming a range of 227 km, but that is more than enough for even the longest of Fair Food’s nine delivery runs, made with a fleet of eight vehicles.

The EVs will be replacing two Toyota LWB Hiace refrigerated vans whose annual running costs are over $17,000 together. Two EV vans will cost approximately $2,000 per year in electricity to run. Accordingly, the $50,000 extra cost involved in purchasing these two electric delivery vans rather than diesel alternatives, plus around $5,000 for the two Zappi chargers, will be repaid via reduced running costs in about 4 years.

Use of the grid for electricity 45% of the time for charging the vans would produce 5.36 tonnes/year of carbon emissions (using a NEM average 0.68kg/kWh carbon intensity figure for 2021). That is a lot less than the 32 tonnes/year of carbon emissions resulting from running the two diesel vehicles that are being replaced.

This example shows that if you do your homework, you can work out solutions that are both cost effective and good for the climate. Well done, CERES.

CORENA is a not-for-profit group with nationwide membership. It was incorporated on April 22, 2013, under the name Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia. CORENA offers interest-free loans to NFPs and social enterprises to assist with the extra costs of EVs (like CERES Fair Food). The link for applications for new loans is here.

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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