Vrede en Lust – Environmentally friendly viticulture and wine production for sustainability
Foreword by Vrede en Lust owner Dana Buys:
“At the start of 2012, electricity became Vrede’s second biggest expense in Lust. The cost of electricity was rising much faster than inflation and it was also clear that climate change was becoming a critical issue. We all had to change our habits.
We did some research and by investing in a major solar energy installation, we were able to solve both problems at the same time; reduce our carbon footprint and control our rising energy costs.
Vrede en Lust’s energy needs were perfectly aligned with solar power, as power generation and our farm operations are at their peak in the summer. It was the perfect combination and solution.
Vrede en Lust is a historic wine estate located in the heart of the Cape Winelands, equidistant from Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. In 2012, an investment of 1,000 solar panels, three large inverters, and cables and frames generated positive cash flow after 4 years. The plan is to replace the panels and upgrade the inverters in 10 years, but the significant investment in cables and frames will serve the next generation of technology to come.
Vrede en Lust was one of the first wineries in Cape Town to embrace solar power and many have followed in recent years. Dana never understood those who said it was too expensive. This facility was financed over 10 years, deciding to repay Investec monthly rather than carbon-hungry Eskom.
This area prevented approximately 3 million tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. Annual generation of more than 300,000 kWh of electricity which supplies electricity to the various services of the farm. Emission of 0.05 kg of CO2 per kWh, compared to the South African state electricity supplier which emits between 0.925 and 1.262 kg of CO2 per kWh.
To put things into perspective, a mature tree consumes about 21 kg of CO2 per year, so 20 kWh of government use = 1 tree absorbed over a year. While the 3 million tonnes of CO2 that Vrede en Lust has avoided releasing into the atmosphere over the past 10 years, it has helped do the work of 150,000 trees.
The large array of solar panels is still solid with 350 meters long and an area of 1500 square meters. Most of the solar panels are in the vineyards under the Simonsberg in Simondium, the rest on the roof of the cellar.
All Vrede en Lust wines are proudly labeled ‘Vinified by the Sun’ and with the busy season approaching, the estate is continuously charged by the African sun.