Thanks to an abundance of Hawke’s Bay sunlight, Arataki Honey, the producers of New Zealand’s favourite honey, will halve its annual power bill. The family-owned business, which celebrates its 75th birthday this year, is investing in a solar power installation at its production plant in Havelock North.

Managers Pam and Rhys Flack said the move to solar energy is another important step in Arataki’s commitment towards improving its environmental footprint.

“Arataki is also making processing changes to favour daytime power usage, rather than at night to maximise the benefits of the installation. We’re aiming to halve our $50,000 annual power bill with around seven years payback on the capital cost,” they said.

Arataki hopes that its solar power investment will also pave the way for more businesses to follow, from seeing the environmental benefits and energy cost savings.

Arataki Honey is New Zealand’s most renowned bee keeping business with over 25,000 hives and 1.5 billion bees working across the country. Arataki bees produce over 1000 tonne of honey for domestic and export markets and Arataki Honey is New Zealand’s top honey brand.

The solar panels have a new bifacial feature to increase the energy produced – they produce power from both (not just one) sides of the panel. The first stage of 88 solar panels are on the north facing 600 square meter bee keeping and storage facility. Stage two is a further 169 panels covering Arataki’s production and packing plant.

The project, undertaken by Hawke’s Bay business Ecoefficient Solutions NZ, will be fully commissioned and operating in time for Arataki’s busy spring pollination and honey seasons.

Ecoefficient Solutions managing director Laura Kerr, said she’s seen a big change in mindset from business owners compared to three years ago when solar was basically “not even on the radar”.

“Hawke’s Bay and our abundance of sunlight hours makes solar power one of the best ways we can help towards reducing our carbon footprint as a region.

“Arataki is leading by example and the project is a fantastic opportunity to help showcase the benefits and proven cost savings so we can encourage more and more businesses to invest in solar,” she said.

“The seasonal nature of Arataki’s production dovetails into the peak solar generation months. During winter, we expect to need a small power top up but in Spring and Summer excess power will be fed into the national grid," said Rhys Flack.

The investment in solar power at the Havelock North site compliments the Arataki Honey Rotorua operation where all its processing energy has been geo-thermal since the early 1960s.

Arataki Honey is also investing in more sustainable packaging options and has recently introduced a cardboard 1kg pot for its most popular Clover Blend Honey.

Arataki is always looking at ways it can contribute to environmental sustainability. The solar power project and the cardboard pack are two significant steps in our journey says Rhys.

Arataki Honey’s education centre welcomes over 60,000 international and local visitors to its Havelock North site every year.  “As part of raising environmental awareness the centre will now including a Real Time Power Dashboard to show visitors exactly how the solar panels perform.

“We can all play a part in working towards a goal of national carbon neutrality. “The more industries and businesses that take advantage of the benefits of solar power, the less demand on national power generation.”