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Ice Cream Shop Partners with Metrowatt for Freezing Solution

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Vusi Melane
Vusi Melane
Staff Writer
Paul and David

How can one maintain the freezing of 20,000 liters of artisanal ice cream during a load shedding crisis? This was the dilemma confronting Paul Ballen, the founder of Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream, with their latest flagship dessert cafe situated in Parkhurst, Johannesburg. Faced with Eskom’s erratic power supply and the incongruity of using a diesel generator, which contradicted the brand’s values, the company sought assistance from Metrowatt. Metrowatt is part of the Myriad group, a leading and trusted player in South Africa’s IT industry for the past 22 years. A specialist in solar-powered energy, to devise a solution.

Chilling Challenges

Maintaining ice cream at the precise temperature of -20℃ demands specific refrigeration conditions to ensure the perfect scoop. To meet this requirement, Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream relies on cutting-edge display freezers. These units, which are forward-ventilating and regularly accessed, necessitate a steady power supply to retain their cold temperature. Additionally, to aid in temperature control, a robust air-conditioning system is employed to uphold a comfortable ambient temperature within the dessert cafe. These factors posed significant challenges for Metrowatt as they engineered a solar solution for Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream, exacerbated by shading across various sections of the roof where solar panels were to be installed.

Metrowatt’s team of solar specialists embraced the challenge, determined to uphold Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream’s stringent daily operational standards with the efficiency and resilience of a sustainable solar solution. A distinctive dual inverter solution was devised, incorporating a 50kW single-phase Sunsynk inverter and a 12kW Huawei three-phase inverter. This setup facilitates the use of optimizers for panels subjected to substantial shading, ensuring continuous solar panel operation even under overcast skies.

The system generates a combined total of 3021kWh of backup power per month, translating to an average yield of 4.4kWh per hour. This backup capacity adequately supports the store’s requirements without reliance on solar power.

Solar Yields the Perfect Scoop

Paul Ballen considers Metrowatt’s solar solution a godsend. “When you produce a frozen product, a regulated cold chain is critical. Simply put, an ice-cream cafe cannot survive without the power to refrigerate. With Metrowatt’s solution, our stress associated with load shedding has disappeared and we are now able to serve our artisanal ice-cream at exactly the right temperature to customers.”

David Neale, CEO of Metrowatt, believes that an increasing number of businesses are turning to solar power. This shift is driven not only by the challenges of load shedding and the subsequent breakdowns of substations but also by the persistent escalation of electricity costs.

Neale acknowledges that converting Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream to solar power posed a unique set of challenges. “For one, the exact refrigeration requirements of the ice-cream and the temperature control of the shop meant that a notable supply of power would be required, to be ensured during load shedding even when it was overcast. Secondly, like many businesses and houses around leafy suburbs such as Parkhurst, a solar solution must contend with interrupted sun coverage due to shade,” Neale says.

“Our team thrives on solving these problems, with the eventual turn-key solution for Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream perfectly aligning with their power requirements and our mission of making sustainable energy solutions accessible to both homeowners and businesses.” he adds

Rent to Own on the Path to Sustainability

Opting for Metrowatt’s rent-to-own model made the transition to solar feasible for Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream, eliminating the need for immediate capital expenditure. “Considering the cost of outright purchase for a 49-panel system required to power the store would be otherwise prohibitive. “For us, cheaper alternatives, such as a diesel generator, was simply out of the question since the noise and smell clashed with the purity and clean image of the brand. Diesel costs also become prohibitive when the generator is required for extended periods of time. Solar is a clean, renewable and a sustainable solution, perfect for an artisanal ice-cream brand such as ours,” says Ballen

Indeed, from a carbon emissions perspective, Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream has reduced its carbon footprint by approximately 3.2 tons, based on Eskom’s Carbon Emissions ratio of 1.06 kg/kWh in 2021. This achievement fulfills Paul’s vision of fostering a more environmentally friendly business without compromising business output.

Moreover, Metrowatt’s solution’s generating capacity will cater to future requirements as well. Ballen envisions the flagship Parkhurst dessert cafe not merely as an ice cream haven but as a lifestyle destination, featuring covered outdoor seating for both coffee enthusiasts and ice cream aficionados.

Neale believes that Metrowatt’s collaboration with Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream underscores the practicality and efficiency of solar, tech solutions in powering commercial enterprises.

“This partnership between Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream and Metrowatt is more than a delightful collaboration, it’s a statement that indulgence can coexist with sustainability,” he concludes

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