Supply issues stymie paprika carbon reduction project

Southern Paprika is one of the largest capsicum growers in the country, with 27 hectares of glasshouses producing around 40 million capsicums each season.

A $5 million government grant to help Southern Paprika reduce its carbon footprint has been withdrawn.

The grant was announced by the Minister for Energy and Resources Dr Megan Woods when she visited the Warkworth greenhouses, on Woodcocks Road, in April.

However, the company has confirmed that the funding has been withdrawn due to equipment supply complications.

A spokesperson for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), which administers the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry (GIDI) fund, said the company supplying the equipment was purchased by another company that stopped supplying the CO2 equipment.

“A replacement supplier could not be found in the timeframe required,” they said.

All up, the project was expected to cost $14 million and involved installing an integrated 10 megawatt biomass boiler and CO2 capture unit. The boiler, fuelled by wood chips from forestry waste, would replace the natural gas currently used to heat the greenhouses.

The aim was to reduce emissions by 70 per cent.

The EECA spokesperson said that CO2 capture technology was relatively new internationally, so there were limited suppliers.

“Where innovative technologies are used, there tends to be fewer potential suppliers so supply issues can mean projects cannot feasibly be delivered in accordance with agreed criteria.

“A project is withdrawn only after various options have been looked at by the business and EECA.”

It was confirmed that Southern Paprika, which was recently sold by founder Hamish Alexander to Market Gardeners, had not received any co-funding for the project prior to it being withdrawn. Co-funding for projects was paid in instalments on proven completion of project milestones.

Southern Paprika still had one ongoing GIDI project to retrofit high efficiency energy thermal screens into its five hectares of glasshouses to reduce evening heat loss.

The spokesperson said the EECA would continue to work with Southern Paprika on alternative decarbonisation projects.