Complete Colour has always considered itself to be Australia’s leading environmentally responsible print company. At its base in the Melbourne suburb of Cheltenham, the company has set itself some ambitious sustainability targets – and it continues to meet and exceed these targets with monotonous regularity.
Managing Director Tim Michaelides proudly states that “98% of products and materials we buy into the business gets either recycled, reused or delivered to our clients as finished product,” which leaves precious little going to landfill.
Indeed, when the company was awarded Wastewise Gold certification by the Victorian Government in 2007 it was the only print company to be given that recognition.
Complete also operates a solvent recycling system to massively reduce its solvent wastage and has rainwater tanks capable of holding 7000 litres of water to service most areas of its print works.
Printing is a relatively energy-intensive industry, particularly for a company like Complete that operates for 24 hours up to 6 days a week, subject to demand and capacity.
The company had been looking at the option of reducing its carbon footprint by installing a rooftop solar system, but at the time (in 2016) could not justify the return on investment.
However, when Michaelides came to negotiate the company’s new electricity supply contract in the second half of 2017 he was staggered to find that the energy component was going to rise in price by a massive 135%.
Clearly action was required, and so Tim Michaelides set about investigating the case for rooftop solar, and eventually engaged Beacon Energy Solutions to conduct a full energy analysis of the business.
The choice of Beacon was an interesting one – not least because Complete has been Beacon’s printer of choice for some 15 years.
However, as Michaelides puts it: “They not only had a good understanding of our requirements, they combined this with a complete understanding of both solar and the fiscal benefits, and that swung the decision.”
Following the energy analysis, Beacon set about overhauling Complete’s energy budget, both indoors and out. In addition to a 200kW solar panel installation, the company replaced almost 1000 light globes with energy-efficient LED alternatives, dramatically reducing the company’s power consumption and upgrading the lighting performance throughout the print works.
The solar installation is made up of 728 panels, each capable of 275W output. Installation began in November 2017, and the system was operational by February 2018 and live and connected to the grid in April 2018.
Beacon Energy Solutions handled the entire installation process as well as smoothing the way through the somewhat complex legal requirements that surround any commercial solar installation of this scale. This included all the paperwork necessary for the installation to create LGCs (or large-scale generation certificates), which Complete can now trade on the LGC market.
The initial results from the solar installation have been encouraging, bearing in mind that the sun is not at its best during the winter months in Melbourne.
The installation provides extensive data on the solar power generation and the overall power consumption of the plant.
According to Tim Michaelides, on the 6th June the installation generated 442kWh of power for consumption, which as he puts it “is an excellent number considering June is the month with shortest days of the year! So we are expecting great things in the longer daylight months from November to February.”
If the power generated does exceed the demand during the summer months, it may well cause Michaelides to revise his views on another part of the energy jigsaw – battery storage.
“We did consider battery storage,” he says, “but at today’s prices it isn’t viable for us.”
“But that’s not saying it won’t be in the future,” he adds.
“The solar installation has aided our competitive advantage,” says Michaelides, “thus avoiding price increases in the manufacturing component of the work that we produce.”
The company had previously been fully audited and was able to offer client carbon offsetting through the Climate Friendly organisation. Now Michaelides admits: “We need to update this as solar power will reduce this cost to our clients.”
Beacon Energy Solutions
1300 237 652