Transcript of the Australian Wine Carbon Calculator webinar

Heather Field:

Okay. We might kick off. Hello, everyone. And welcome to today's webinar, which is on the Australian Wine Carbon Calculator. My name is Heather Field and I'm a Seasonal Risk Knowledge Broker with Agriculture Victoria, and we'll be facilitating today's webinar. Before our presenter begins, just a few housekeeping items. This webinar is being recorded and will be made available after today.

Heather Field:

Currently we have got you all muted just to stop background noise. So if you do have a question, please use the chat function which is currently explained on your screen and we'll make some time at the end of the presentation for questions. There will also be a quick survey following the webinar and it'll only take a couple of minutes to complete.

Heather Field:

And we greatly appreciate your assistance in complete that. Before we commence, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands and waters on which we are all meeting and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. And I'm tuning in from Ballarat, the lands of the water on people, and would like to acknowledge all the lands on which everyone is tuning in from today.

Heather Field:

So I'm very pleased to welcome our presenter today, Kieran Hirlam. And Kieran is a Senior Project Engineer with Commercial Services at the Australian Wine Research Institute. And Kieran's work over the last seven years is focused on sustainability within the wine and agriculture sectors.

Heather Field:

And Kieran has been involved in life cycle analysis for individual wineries, which is driving to become carbon neutral, as well as big picture environmental footprinting to understand the impacts associated with alternative packaging for and numerous suppliers. And he has also delved deeper into understanding waste transformation opportunities within the wine industry and broaden this to other agricultural and horticultural sectors.

Heather Field:

So today Kieran will share the functionality of the Australian Wine Carbon Calculator, some case studies and also how the calculations enable growers to benchmark their greenhouse gas emissions. And Kieran will also discuss some mitigation strategies for the viticulture and wine making businesses. So with that introduction done, I will pass over to you Kieran for your presentation. Thank you.

Kieran Hirlam:

Great. Thank you very much for that, Heather. And yes, good afternoon everyone. And once again, thank you Heather for inviting me along today to give this presentation. So as Heather mentioned, my name is Kieran Hirlam and I'm a Senior Project Engineer here at the Australian Wine Research Institute and we are based in Urrbrae, South Australia. And today I'll be discussing the Australian Wine Carbon Calculator.

Kieran Hirlam:

So today's presentation might be an introduction for some, but hopefully by the end it'll provide everyone with a clear understanding of what the current tool is and how it can help grape growers and winemakers better understand their greenhouse gas emissions. So firstly, to step into the discussion, we need to know what carbon accounting is.

Kieran Hirlam:

Carbon accounting refers to the process of the direct measure of how much carbon dioxide equivalence and organization emits. So in carbon accounting, greenhouse gas emissions for a business are typically categorized into three different scopes. We have scope one emissions, which are regarded as direct emissions including fuel use and emissions from fertilizers.

Kieran Hirlam:

While scope two emissions, are indirect emissions output during the generation of electricity that is purchased by a business or facility. Scope one and scope two emissions are emissions that fit within the control of a business. And typically for different environmental guidelines, these are generally already captured by a business. Scope three emissions, however, are indirect emissions that fall outside the control of a business.

Kieran Hirlam:

And these occur as a result of other businesses, as a consequence of your business operations with things such as the production of fertilizers, fuel, machinery additives, et cetera. The Australian Wine Carbon Calculator exists as a streamlined method for estimating the scope one and scope two emissions for grape growing and wine making in Australia with the areas that a business, again, can control and can measure.

Kieran Hirlam:

The Australian Wine Carbon Calculator was launched in April, 2009 intending to help Australian wineries measure their carbon footprint. The project was a joint initiative of the Winemakers Federation of Australian, currently Australian Grape & Wine, the South Australian Wine Industry Association and the Wine Grape Council of South Australia.

Kieran Hirlam:

The Australian calculator builds on the international version that has been in use since early 2008, but includes components specific to the Australian needs. A series of Australian government endorsed emission factors sit behind the calculator supporting the emission outputs and bringing them to a common CO2 equivalence measurement.

Kieran Hirlam:

The calculator is based on the methodologies of the Australian National Greenhouse Accounts and the latest global warming potentials from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or the IPCC. The Australian calculator is very comprehensive and it requires more data than is needed under the government's National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme or the NGERS, but it still includes all of the relevant data to meet scheme.

Kieran Hirlam:

The calculator, as I mentioned previously, does not mention or does not attempt to estimate the offsite or scope three emissions as these are best calculated through accepted life cycle analysis methodologies, which will be discussed later within the presentation. The Australian Wine Carbon Calculator is accessible for free through the Australian Wine Research Institute website.

Kieran Hirlam:

And there's a link provided on the slide at the moment. And it has now also been adapted as a web-based tool through Sustainable Winegrowing Australia. So stepping into the calculator, the calculator is split into vineyard and winery emissions and is designed to require inputs already known and controlled by the business. Vineyard input categories include vineyard properties, electricity use, fuel use, vineyard floor management processes, irrigation types, water source and fertilizers.

Kieran Hirlam:

You'll note that on the slide, fertilizers are highlighted in a different color as this input information can be a bit more comprehensive. So the calculator has an inbuilt nitrogen calculator to assist with better defining your total emissions from different types of synthetic and organic fertilizers. The emissions outputs are registered on a per hectare basis, which helps to benchmark for those members register to Sustainable Winegrowing Australia.

Kieran Hirlam:

And this will be touched on a little bit later. Winery input categories include defining winery parameters, as well as the electricity use, fuel use, water and waste water volumes, solid waste, wine making CO2 and synthetic refrigerator and emissions. The emission outputs are registered on a per kilolitre basis, once again which helps to benchmark for those members registered to Sustainable Winegrowing Australia.

Kieran Hirlam:

So as a point of reference in an Australian context, a common example of emission outputs from the calculator for vineyards highlight that fuel used is diesel and purchased electricity equates to around 90% of the total scope one and scope two emissions. On the wine making side of the equation, electricity is by far the biggest contributor accounting for greater than 80% of emissions. But how can a business measure their own performance relative to industry?

Kieran Hirlam:

And this is where Sustainable Winegrowing Australia comes into the discussion. So Sustainable Winegrowing Australia or SWA for short is the Australian wine industry's national sustainability program. The program takes a holistic approach to managing, supporting and promoting sustainability within the wine industry. Sustainable Winegrowing Australia is modeled on global best practices and aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with progress towards these monitored annually.

Kieran Hirlam:

It is administered by the Australian Wine Research Institute with governance, endorsement and active support from Australian Grape & Wine and Wine Australia. The program covers the fundamental components of sustainability being environmental, social and economic impacts. And it can be applied to both the winery, vineyard and wine businesses.

Kieran Hirlam:

It is through Sustainable Winegrowing Australia that there exists benchmarking tools and resources that enables the calculator's emissions outputs to be referenced against other businesses to assist with planning, execution, control and communication of emissions, especially when around developing and implementing an emissions' reduction strategy.

Kieran Hirlam:

So to provide some context to the reach of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia, the latest figures show that the program is used across 48 wine producing regions in Australia with a total of 767 members. And I believe recently that has just exceeded that 800 members. So this currently represents 32% of the vineyard area in Australia and 32% of the total grape crush.

Kieran Hirlam:

As of recent figures, 16% of the SWA members are certified as conducted by an independent authorized, sorry, an independent auditor authorized through the Australian wine industry standards of sustainable practice. And this certification enables businesses access the use of certification trust mark and a host of other benefits. In terms of engagement with the Victorian wine industry, I'll go through how you're able to identify which businesses might be using the program and how many Victorian businesses were involved.

Kieran Hirlam:

On the website, as highlighted on the slides, there is a search member's tab as highlighted here on the screen. By selecting this, you are then able to filter by state, zone or region to discover all of the members in Victoria who are using the program. The filtering process then defines the businesses in Victoria that are members of the program. It defines the business name, their state, their zone, and their region.

Kieran Hirlam:

Defines whether their certified or not. And also, it defines what year that they joined the program. As of recently, the current list for Victorian companies was up to around 137. So now progressing into a few case studies, as mentioned previously, the Australian Wine Carbon Calculator is set up as a web-based tool within Sustainable Winegrowing Australia. So the next few slides will show you the input functionality and provide a case study of the benchmarking outputs.

Kieran Hirlam:

So the vineyard greenhouse gas summary is created from the data entered for electricity used from the grid, the sum of all fuels used and then nitrogen, excuse me, nitrogen fertilizer applied. When the benchmarking reports are released to each of the members, the members can access the summary of their production metrics and emissions from the results page, which is shown in red on the screen.

Kieran Hirlam:

In this example, you can see a summary of the scope one and scope two emissions as input in the previous slides represented on a kilogram's of CO2 equivalent basis. At the bottom of the summary, there is a visual guide to the emissions generated from the data entered. So on the left is a historical summary of scope one and two emissions and the breakdown of contributions.

Kieran Hirlam:

On the right hand side is the emissions shown proportionally for the current year. So now looking at how we can use this data to provide context for our businesses, we can look at a case study whereby assessing two interesting contracting vineyards and looking at their emission profiles taken from the same region in 2021 with similar vineyard areas.

Kieran Hirlam:

So vineyard one shows that greenhouse gas emissions fluctuate a bit from year-to-year, but tend to average around 40 tons of CO2 equivalence per year. From the emission summary, on the right you can see that the greater percentage of greenhouse gas emissions are from fuel used as diesel with only a small percentage from electricity, around 16%. Vineyard two also has fluctuating greenhouse gas emissions from year-to-year, but averages closer to 100 tons of CO2 equivalence per year.

Kieran Hirlam:

From the emission summary, you can see that the vineyard has a lower percentage from diesel use 67%, and also has a small contribution from fertilizers. If we start by looking at the differences in the number of tractor passes, so this is correlated to diesel use between the two sites. We observed that for vineyard one there were significantly fewer passes, 14 versus 21 for the year, with a big difference showing that vineyard two used double the number of fungicide sprays for the year.

Kieran Hirlam:

Both vineyards use the same amount of water, which was three megaliters per hectare. But if we look at the differences in electricity used, vineyard two used more than four times the electricity of vineyard one. When we delve down and look closer at the data, we can actually see that vineyard one was receiving pressurized water to the vineyard, eliminating the need for further pumping which vineyard two needed to do.

Kieran Hirlam:

So because that is outside the vineyards control, that's considered a scope three emission and is not included within the calculations. It's also interesting to note that despite both vineyards using the same amount of water, vineyard two yielded almost three times that of vineyard one. So based on the comparisons, perhaps vineyard two responded more appropriately to disease pressure with the 12 fungicide sprays being warranted preventing significant yield loss.

Kieran Hirlam:

So the tool and the calculator gives us the ability to monitor our greenhouse gas emissions. However, there are other environmental impacts and different impact categories that we need to consider. So there is the importance of having this tool that we can benchmark to enable us to think about where the data or what the data is telling us in relation into our overall environmental impact or the entire sustainability picture.

Kieran Hirlam:

As per the example and the discussion so far, we know that a limitation of the calculator is that scope three emissions aren't factored into the calculations. Scope three emissions can be accounted for through a more how process known as life cycle assessment.

Kieran Hirlam:

And based on a previous study of the Australian wine industry, the life cycle assessment as undertaken on the vineyard and the winery, whereby including scope three emissions shows that in grape growing, diesel use, electricity used on-site and electricity used by irrigation providers were the main contributors to emissions.

Kieran Hirlam:

And again, on the wine making side, electricity was by far the biggest contributor accounting for 82% of emissions in an Australian wine context. So the main drivers still contribute the most emissions. However, how these are classified has shifted with the introduction of small contributions from indirect emissions, which for some businesses could be far more significant than others.

Kieran Hirlam:

So it is important to go through the entire life cycle assessment process to see what is the key hotspots within your business. But as it stands, the calculator is designed to help businesses target their low hanging emissions within the vineyard and within the winery.

Kieran Hirlam:

So I do apologize as that the next few slides we'll step into some more technical information, which will be relevant for producers looking at mitigating their greenhouse gas emissions. But I hope that this will at least assist you with further conversations depending on where you sit within the picture. So as discussed in the vineyard and during grape growing, diesel use, electricity used on-site and electricity used by irrigation providers were the main contributors to emissions.

Kieran Hirlam:

A few mitigation strategies that have been proposed and adopted for viticultural practices include improvement to management practices, whereby considering multipurpose passes, where tractors have front and backend operations and also further enhancing spraying efficiency across multiple rows to minimize tractor passes.

Kieran Hirlam:

This further lends its hand to future transitions to electric tractors to minimize diesel use. And there are presently trials being done on electric tractors globally with commercializing targeting them the coming years. So hopefully, within the coming years some of these trials will eventuate into commercial products.

Kieran Hirlam:

Furthermore, there are opportunities for the use of agricultural waste as a biomass for renewable electricity production, including the use of prunings for paralysis and the incorporation of biochar into the soil as a potential carbon storm. Now, to the winery and looking at energy use, we see that refrigeration is by far the biggest energy user in many wineries and it can be up to around 70% of the electricity bill.

Kieran Hirlam:

And as we saw previously, electricity was around 82% of the wineries entire greenhouse gas emissions output. When looking at mitigation strategies in the winery, we need to understand that there exist low cost improvement opportunities associated with changes in operating practices and higher cost improvement opportunities, which involve more significant modifications to the business.

Kieran Hirlam:

Some of the low cost improvement opportunities include incorporating dual set points for refrigeration to make use of both off-peak electricity, as well as the higher efficiencies you will get at night with lower ambient temperatures. The practice is essentially to use a lower set point at night and a higher set point during the day, so that most of your cooling happens at night and the plant only needs to come on during the day if it's required.

Kieran Hirlam:

It's also important to assess the temperatures of different operations, and do they need to be so cold? What is the difference between 1° either down or up, and what impact does that have on your electricity bill? Also, simple maintenance to the fridge plant and other operations can further prevent your system from running at its optimal performance. So it's really important to keep on top of your maintenance schedules.

Kieran Hirlam:

Another strategy is nighttime harvesting, which is important in order to bring in cold grapes to reduce the load on must chilling. So reducing the load on bringing hot grapes down to the temperatures that it's required. Scheduling, of course, needs to be able to cope with this. So there are logistical challenges there that need to cope as well as the emissions challenges that come with it.

Kieran Hirlam:

One of the processing opportunities that is available is to use flotation as an alternative to cold settling, whereby using nitrogen gas to remove grape solids. This process is quicker than settling and there's no need to warm up the juice before fermentation. Continuous settling is probably more suited to large wineries, but you can do batch settling in existing tanks for smaller wineries. So there are multiple options.

Kieran Hirlam:

This then leads to assessing cold stabilization alternatives whereby looking at additives to inhibit titrate formulation rather than removing titrates through traditional energy intensive cold stabilization methods. Now looking at some of the higher cost improvement strategies, alternative energy options are one way to help reduce the business reliance on the grid.

Kieran Hirlam:

Solar panels, for instance, can convert solar energy directly to electricity. Solar panels can be mounted on roofs and buildings, but generally you need to be able to use the electricity generated on-site. This is one of the luxuries that Australia has with solar energy compared to some of the other countries.

Kieran Hirlam:

And as we probably would've felt yesterday, that it would've been a very nice day to have some solar panels on the roof. So there is a source of energy there that we can try to apply to a winery setting and use on-site at the winery. Another option is battery storage, which is an expanding field. And these systems can also provide short-term backup from power outages and can be charged from the grip if needed.

Kieran Hirlam:

Commercial industrial batteries are an expanding market and there is investigation going on these, and that's across many other different industries as well. Another hot topic at the moment for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions is soil carbon. So from the carbon calculator, soil carbon has currently not being included due to a number of reasons mostly linked to the measurement, whereby dealing with a dynamic system that possesses spatial variability in its outputs among many other factors.

Kieran Hirlam:

So the adoption of measurement for growers at present is also limited. However, as future funding becomes available for the measurement of baseline soil carbon levels there exists good opportunity or good potential to create the right tool to help to continue to build the calculator to better define the system. This further incorporates abatement and mitigation efforts by wineries and vineyards with the Australian Wine Carbon Calculator currently set up to track this information.

Kieran Hirlam:

However, as it evolves, there is the tension to expand the accounting framework to potentially include offset opportunities as well as to look at other wine businesses, especially focusing on packaging and distribution. So as we've discussed, it's important to keep the limited scope of this calculator in mind when thinking about making comparisons.

Kieran Hirlam:

So this tool provides the benchmarks for the purpose of assessing improvement opportunities in the areas where producers have direct control. It would be in inappropriate however to make comparative claims about products based on these results alone without looking at the rest of the life cycle. On the right hand side of the slide we can see what else is involved in the life cycle outside of this calculator.

Kieran Hirlam:

And there is quite a bit that we need to consider. And this information can be best captured using a life cycle assessment approach. So life cycle assessment or LCA is a method for assessing the environmental impact and performance of processes and products. Life cycle assessments are typically said to be either cradle to grave, considering all impacts from extraction and processing of raw materials through to use, recycling and disposal.

Kieran Hirlam:

Or cradle to get, considering all impacts up until the product leaves the producer. For example, a life cycle assessment on a bottle of wine may be performed up to the winery gate or to also include transport, sale and disposal of the packaging. For the Australian wine industry, in 2017 the estimated carbon footprint was 1.6 million tons of CO2 equivalents.

Kieran Hirlam:

On average, the carbon footprint per liter of wine was estimated to be between 0.6 to 1.4 kilograms of CO2 equivalents. These values have been seen to align with different global studies. The indicative cradle to grave carbon footprint of Australian wine highlighted the grape growing and wine making gave similar contributions to the carbon footprint of wine at 15% and 17% respectively.

Kieran Hirlam:

And highlighted that for transport and glass packaging, that these were obvious hotspots. Whereby in the studies, these two represented approximately 68% of the average life cycle. So while the carbon calculator is a really good tool, it's commonly used and should be used as a first step for a business to start to better understand and think about their emission profiles. Another benefit of life cycle assessments are that they can assess for the full range of environmental impacts from a product's production, use and disposal.

Kieran Hirlam:

So a full LCA is recommended to make any public claims or comparisons about products and processes. These assessments look at all aspects of the supply chain from the extraction of raw materials and manufacturing of additives to the use and disposal of packaging material. LCAs are also governed by international standards and ISO 14,000 series and are recognized by markets around the world. Like all processes however, there are criticisms of LCAs which I'll touch upon briefly.

Kieran Hirlam:

One main criticism is the LCAs are based on hundreds of assumptions, and a practitioner can tailor these assumptions to back up pretty much any point of view that they want. The classic example of this is in the fight between hand dryers and paper towels. Each industry performed a comparative life cycle assessment on the two methods and surprise, surprise, each industry found that their own method was better.

Kieran Hirlam:

So things like this don't exactly breed confidence in the method, but there are defined product category rules and ISO standards in place to attempt to combat this kind of situation happening and prescribe exactly how an LCA should be performed. And LCAs then require you to, along with the ISO standards, to provide as much justification as you can for any assumption that is being made. So I'll finish with this slide because it's a question that we are asked internally quite a lot.

Kieran Hirlam:

And so when looking to become carbon neutral, the carbon calculator is a good first step to help you better calculate your emissions and develop emissions reduction strategies. But a full LCA will be the key goal in providing you with the greatest context enabling the purchase of offsets, to then better enable your independent validation stage to run smoothly and lead into the public statement of carbon neutrality.

Kieran Hirlam:

So finally, I'd really like to just thank all of the funding bodies and the AWRI members, past and present, who have contributed to this work. I'd like to thank Heather for the introduction and to inviting me along to present today. And finally, thank you all for registering and listening. And I'm happy to take any questions.

Heather Field:

Fantastic. Thanks Kieran. That was really overview and definitely showing how the wine industry is leading the way in this space. And definitely a few things there that we can learn in other industries. And if you have got any questions, just pop those in the chat box which you should be able to locate at the bottom of your screen.

Heather Field:

We do have a couple of questions that have come in, and I think you've addressed the one in regards to wine bottles being included in the calculation. So I don't know if you wanted to add anything else on that.

Kieran Hirlam:

Yeah. It is something that I suppose packaging companies or different wine businesses of that regard, a lot of their emissions tend to be scope three emissions or fit outside the control of their business. So it is something that we are looking into and there are many different models around which include package as a requirement within scope one and scope two emissions.

Kieran Hirlam:

But it is something that we are looking into at the moment. But specifically when you are bringing a lot of consumables and all of that on-site, then a lot of that becomes outside of the scope of that business's control with regards to the use and production of all of that. So it is a little bit harder to measure and get all of that information and justify where all of that information is coming from. But it is something that we're hoping that we can expand the calculator to achieve.

Heather Field:

Great. Thank you for that. Got a good question from Danielle. Can you provide an indicative cost to get a LCA done on a wine product?

Kieran Hirlam:

I would have to take that one offsite, sorry, offline, Danielle. But we have done these in the past and would definitely be interested in having any discussions that we can with you.

Heather Field:

Great. Thanks for that. Maria's got a few questions. The first about, could you expand a little bit more on the emissions factors used by the calculator?

Kieran Hirlam:

Yeah. Definitely. So the emissions factors used within the calculator are a combination of the National Greenhouse Accounts factors. So the NGA factors, which you can find online and they are cross-industry or industry-specific factors which sit behind the calculator and are called upon with reference to the different input parameters that are involved.

Kieran Hirlam:

There are also a different combination for some of the refrigerants and things like that. There are a host of different factors essentially that sit behind to speak to the different degree of the, I suppose, the modeled or indicative CO2 emission output. So all of these essentially sit behind the calculator and are called upon.

Kieran Hirlam:

And they're based from either the National Greenhouse Accounts who have done a lot of work over the past years and update those factors yearly, or literature which is relevant to wine industry applications and then modeled based on bringing everything back to a CO2 equivalence basis. So if it's a methane or not just oxide emission as well, they can sort of tailor to those emissions, but once again bringing it back to a CO2 equivalent basis.

Heather Field:

All right. Thank you. Solar power supply within the winery property, is there a cost effective analysis for farmers?

Kieran Hirlam:

That's something that I would have to look in for you. I believe that there are some that have been done. Off the top of my head I wouldn't have the direct source, but I can definitely ask around for you. So once again, happy to take that offline. But I believe that there are, from a winery case, there are case studies that have been done.

Kieran Hirlam:

There's definitely an expanding field within the wine industry. And that's more from the production side that I've been involved with. However, from the vineyard side of the equation and then for other farming operations, that's a question that I would need to ask and get a bit more information on.

Heather Field:

All right. And another, maybe, slightly technical one around tree plantings. Are they considered within the calculator, within scope one in the life cycle? And would you know how much hectares should be employed to sequester carbon dioxide equivalence?

Kieran Hirlam:

I apologize, I don't have that information off the top of my head. But it's definitely something that I'm happy to take offline and have a bit of a look in and then ask for you.

Heather Field:

No worries at all. So yeah, I'll link Maria to yourself for that one.

Kieran Hirlam:

Yeah. That'd be fantastic.

Heather Field:

No worries. We've got one on, and I think you may have covered this, but [inaudible 00:39:31] just in case. Approximately what percentage of Australian wineries and members, and actively monitoring their emissions using this tool?

Kieran Hirlam:

Yeah. So the percentage of Australian, I'm not sure as to, I know that there's over 100 members signed up to Sustainable Winegrowing Australia. And then the engagement from those 100 members using this tool, I don't have those specific numbers, so I do apologize. So you can obviously be a member of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia, but not be using the tool because there's many other elements to it.

Kieran Hirlam:

So in terms of that engagement, I don't have those figures. Sorry. And then in terms of, I should know this, but I don't have a handle on how many wineries bodies there are throughout Australia and the percentage of that. But once again, I'm more than happy to find that information and provide that to Heather to share around.

Heather Field:

That would be great. One from Graham, does the wine industry have any wider longer-term carbon targets or is it mainly up to individual wine businesses to set their own targets?

Kieran Hirlam:

So I believe targets are being set in the background at the moment. But yeah, I probably am not the best person to comment on that. So once again, happy to look into that further. But typically at the moment it's a lot of the providing the tools that are available for wine industry to use and to keep on top of their emissions and better understand their emissions. And then yeah, believe that I will definitely look into whether there's defined emissions targets from the wine industry.

Heather Field:

Fantastic. And we've got lots of questions coming in now, it's slow off the mark, but they're all flooding in. So lots of interest out there. Oliver would like to know, what would the next steps be in including the soil carbon component if we baseline our vineyard following the 2021 soil carbon methodology?

Kieran Hirlam:

Yeah. That's a really good question because obviously the 2021 soil carbon methodology has been released recently, and I believe that adoption is key. So making sure that we are getting that methodology too, and getting as many people involved within using that and developing a baseline as possible.

Kieran Hirlam:

So I know that there's many ongoing discussions around soil carbon at present. And we're having those discussions internally as well as to how we can potentially develop a business case, I suppose, to see what that framework would look like for introduction to understanding wine growing Australia or the carbon calculator.

Kieran Hirlam:

So there is, I suppose it is a bit of a freight train moving and building momentum. It's just getting the messages out and making sure that with the new methodologies in place that many vineyards and wineries are looking into understanding about what their baselines might be, so that there's sufficient data to enable a platform or a tool to be put into place to see what those offsets or what the potential of those offsets can be.

Heather Field:

Great. Yeah. Definitely a hot topic. John has a question around electricity. So given the high dependency on coal for electricity production, especially in Victoria, how much reduction in carbon emissions from electric versus diesel irrigation pumps and tractors is achievable at present?

Kieran Hirlam:

Yeah. I apologize, that would require a comparative analysis so I wouldn't want to throw any questions or any data out there at the moment. But we'd definitely be able to have a look at the implications of the reductions based from electric versus diesel as well as obviously through the inputs from renewable energies and things of that nature. So it's definitely something that can be done. I just don't have the information at hand, sorry.

Heather Field:

No. No worries. And Mardi who works with Kieran, has provided that 36% of Australian vineyard area and 40% of the winery grape crush are using the tool. So thanks for that Mardi. That's good to know. Let me find one here. We've got one. Kieran, why is the carbon dioxide captured by vineyards not counted?

Kieran Hirlam:

At the moment, it's not counted because it's essentially, I suppose, defined as a biogenic carbon cycle. Whereas we have vineyard uptake or vine uptake of carbon dioxide, is tended to be offset by fermentation release of CO2 within the winery. So the Biogen carbon cycle hasn't yet been included or hasn't been factored within the calculator because we essentially have a negative uptake through the vine versus that positive release from fermentation CO2.

Kieran Hirlam:

And these sit within the short-term carbon cycle, so while there is merit obviously in including this, the carbon calculator at the moment is a tool looking at that sort of more long-term carbon emitting and the impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Kieran Hirlam:

So obviously, there are many other elements that we could look in, and that's where I'm sort of mentioning around the life cycle assessment being a greater tool to look into every single aspect. Whereas the carbon calculator at present is more designed as a tool to target that low hanging fruit so that you can identify the hotspots within your business and then focus on those in the first-term. And then look at building on your emissions reduction strategy from there.

Heather Field:

Great. Thank you. Is there any discussion in the industry of green hydrogen? Is this something you could add to the calculator across various uses or would you need to see it in international accounts first?

Kieran Hirlam:

I apologize, because it's probably not my area of expertise. I do know that there are discussions around green hydrogen, but to the extent of those discussions and then the implementation of those into an accounting tool, I personally don't have that knowledge. But it's definitely something I can inquire further about.

Heather Field:

No worries. And we've got one, where is demand for missions credentials or footprinting coming from for the wine sector? Is it coming from customers, exporters, banks or just the growers themselves? So any comments or observations there?

Kieran Hirlam:

Yeah. I believe in the early days it was primarily pushed by retailers, especially within some of the export markets. But then now it's more or less being driven by the retailers as well. It's more being pushed by people within the wine industry who are, I suppose, adapting to current changes and trying to be at the forefront of sustainability within the industry.

Kieran Hirlam:

And I suppose people within the wine industry are just sort of trying to strive to be at that front line. And so we have seen that there is a lot of engagement within the growers and winemakers taking it on for themselves to make sure that they are on board with any ongoing changes. But we have seen that there has been a push from retail and export markets.

Heather Field:

Great. Thank you. Richard did have a follow up to the, why is the carbon captured by vineyards not counted? And just made a, might be just a comment. How about if fermentation carbon dioxide is captured and sequestered as limestone.

Kieran Hirlam:

Yeah. Thank you Richard. It is an interesting project, an interesting idea of capturing fermentation CO2 because it is a very rich source of CO2. It has been used in the beer industry for quite some time.

Kieran Hirlam:

I suppose there are just some issues around seasonality as well as infrastructure costs with all of that. So there are some economic impact categories as well. So there is a bit more complexity around that, but it is definitely an interesting topic and point of discussion.

Heather Field:

Great. Thank you. And for any anyone online, for vineyards and wineries that are seeking to estimate their emissions, is it best to send them to the sustainable wine Australia program?

Kieran Hirlam:

Yeah. So there's Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program. And Mardi Longbottom, who is on at the moment, who looks after that program is more than happy to take inquiries as well as myself. And we're all housed here within the Australian wine industry, sorry, within the Australian Wine Research Institute.

Kieran Hirlam:

So we have open discussions around all the inquiries that come for through and how we can best handle each of the needs of the winery or vineyard, who is submitting the inquiry.

Kieran Hirlam:

And as we find with every different inquiry, there's no two that are necessarily always the same. So we treat every inquiry as its own independent inquiry that we can make sure that we're putting the best foot forward to provide the best information that we can for the client.

Heather Field:

Great. Thank you. And Mardi's popped in just to maybe... The help desk email, so I'll pop that in the chat box shortly. I don't believe we've got any more questions. I can see a hand up Richard, but I can't unmute you. So if you do have a question before we finish, yeah, please just pop that in the chat box, if you've got a follow up question.

Heather Field:

And I had just a final, I suppose, question about feedback from growers and vineyard owners on the results and the benchmarking. Just your general feedback that you received from them using the calculator.

Kieran Hirlam:

Yeah. It's generally really positive that they're getting a, and especially with the benchmarking tools, now that it's up within a web-based tool within Sustainable Winegrowing Australia. The feedback that we're getting is positive, that it's providing them with a understanding of some of the hotspots within their business.

Kieran Hirlam:

And it is something that we are looking at, bettering our extension capabilities from our end so that we can try to help with that engagement from the producers end. And discussing some of those mitigation strategies which we mentioned today as well as highlighting some of the case studies and results and sort of different ways that you can look at the data so that it can be more beneficial for your business.

Kieran Hirlam:

So that's all ongoing, and we're hoping to continue to expand that as once again different methodologies come out with regards to say soil carbon and things of that nature. So trying to wrap that all into the entire sustainable picture and make sure that we're at the front foot and providing the producers with as much information as we can to assist in any way that we can.

Heather Field:

Fantastic. Thanks Kieran. And I don't see more questions now. And in the chat box there, we do have that helpdesk@awri.com.au. So yeah. Any other suggestions or comments, yeah, best to go through that one, Kieran.

Kieran Hirlam:

Yeah. That'd be fantastic. And thanks for putting that in there, Mardi.

Heather Field:

Thank you. And I have popped in earlier on, just a link to the actual carbon calculator, Wine Carbon Calculator. So please, click on that and visit the site and have a little look around. It's a definitely a very nicely set up calculator. And yeah, just want to also, yeah, congratulate you and the wine industry for sort of leading the way in this space and definitely providing some good insights for other industries to learn from.

Kieran Hirlam:

No. And thank you very much for taking the time out to have me on to present today. And it's something the Australian Wine Research Institute and other associated parties have been involved in for a number of years. And it's something that we're still learning and learning from other industries as well.

Kieran Hirlam:

And that collaborative nature is really important especially across the agricultural sector. So I'm trying make sure that we can open this up and provide as much information as we can to support both the wine industry as well as other industries and vice versa.

Heather Field:

Fantastic. Thanks Kieran. Just doing another final check. Looks good. Yeah. So I'll wrap it up and give everyone, yeah, a 10 minute bit of free time and a bit of time for some lunch. And yeah, again, just want to thank Kieran for your presentation and your comprehensive look at the calculator today. We have had a couple of requests for your presentation, your slides. Are you happy if I pass those onto those who have requested?

Kieran Hirlam:

Yeah. I'm more than happy for you to share those.

Heather Field:

Great. Thank you. All right. Well, we'll wrap it up there. So everyone who has registered today will receive an email with the recording. So if you want to go back and have another look, please do so. That should be out in the next few days. And our next webinar in our series is on climate futures for dairy in Northeast Victoria.

Heather Field:

So a farmer-driven perspective of response. So that's on the 8th of February. So yeah, have a look in your inbox from climate.webinar.agriculture and you'll be able to register for that one if you're interested. So I'll close it out there. And thank you Kieran and everyone for your participation today.

Kieran Hirlam:

Thanks Heather. Thanks all.

Heather Field:

Thanks everyone. Bye.

Page last updated: 31 Jan 2023