After ten days in Santorini, Greece, and two wine tastings I decided to take a deep dive into the “cosmos” of wineries. The Mediterranean is quite known for its high-quality wineries. The French, the Spanish, the Italians, and the Greeks. The wine is both a symbol of spirit and passion. Depending on the consumed amount, the wine may drive one through Paradise or Hell. It serves different purposes whether one studies ancient times, Christianity or Byzantine. And today, it is a major source of revenue for regional and national economies. But do not forget. You need to drink your wine in a sustainable way.
It is necessary to follow a sustainable method of production. But, why is that? It is quite simple. Because, wineries consume high amounts of energy -especially- during refrigeration and storage. The winemaking process is highly energy-consuming, considering the fermentation and maturation cooling and the cold stabilization and storage. The annual energy demand of a European winery is estimated at about 1,750 million kWh. Most certainly electricity is the main source of energy. Nonetheless, wineries may, also, use natural gas or oil for boilers, water heaters, and engines.
Energy efficiency and independence, reduction of greenhouse gases, and lower energy bills are key strategies for the entrepreneurs of the sector if they want to remain competitive and survive the crisis. Hence, it is important to conduct energy audits to collect data and confront the inefficiencies at their roots. Based on the collected information and the required technical and economic feasibility research, energy-saving measures shall come to light.
Short term solutions
There are multiple solutions that will immediately lead to a more sustainable way of production. A couple of them are enumerated below:
- Turn the power switch off or down. It is a simple but effective move that will reduce the utility bill significantly.
- Turn off the lights. One could argue that it is a cliche phrase. Timers and sensors are “money savers”. For instance, warehouses, stockrooms, restrooms, and walk-in refrigerators are just a few examples where occupancy sensors will come in handy. However, changing the behavior of the employees will present extremely positive results.
- Replace conventional lighting with LED technology.
- Invest in smart thermostats and door seals. The proper use of the latter could save up to 15% of the total refrigeration energy consumption.
- Check and replace the filters and the economizer when necessary.
Long term solutions
Still, it is absolutely essential to adopt more durable solutions and visualize the benefits in the long run.
- Upgrade the chillers. Install the ones with variable-frequency drives to decrease the costs of electricity and maintenance.
- Insulation is key. The storage tanks or barrels need to be well insulated for the fermenting and aging process.
- Proper function of the compressors.
- Prefer electrodialysis to cold stabilization.
- Improve the airflow by installing destratification ceiling fans.
- Take advantage of the caves. The winery of Hatzidakis in Santorini operates in a large cave. The production area, the back office, and the tasting room are below the ground. In that way, they manage to save energy while maintaining the temperature and humidity at the desirable levels.
Last but not least, the use of renewable sources of energy is not suggested but is required. Solar and geothermal energy may be used as sources of electricity. As a result, the winery would gain its autonomy. Investing in renewables and innovative technologies, the wine industry will survive the consecutive crises while protecting the environment. Generating and consuming green energy is the answer to the energy problem.