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Farmers save through Energy Savers audits

Potential power bill savings in excess of $3 million have been identified in the audits of Queensland farming enterprises through the Energy Savers program – a joint initiative of the Palaszczuk Government and industry.

Energy Minister Mark Bailey said the 110 audits showed individual farmers could potentially save tens of thousands of dollars by tapping into the savings realised through on-farm energy audits.

“The Energy Savers program covers virtually every major agriculture sector that uses energy intensively in Queensland and the findings were now being shared with primary producers across the state at field days and on-line,” he said.

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to helping businesses large and small reduce their electricity costs and this is just one of the programs available to help them achieve this.

“The audits have identified that some primary producers can save between $1000 and $25,000 just by switching to the most appropriate tariff for their operations.

“Some other significant savings typically require an up-front investment to more energy efficient equipment or a solar PV system, but in many cases the rate of return makes the payback period relatively short.

“The project team has also identified a range of financing options available with major lenders to support projects that improve energy efficiency.”

Mr Bailey said the program, funded by the Palaszczuk Government and delivered by Ergon Energy in partnership with Queensland Farmers Federation (QFF) and its industry members, focussed on on-farm irrigation and processing systems, especially refrigeration and cold storage.

“The audits have identified opportunities that could deliver savings typically in the 10 to 40 per cent range and in some cases as high as 70 per cent,” he said.

“Big savings come from having an irrigation system that is fit for purpose, including the correctly sized pump and motor, pipe diameter and alignment.

“To illustrate the potential savings, one Mareeba horticulturist is estimated to save $40,000 a year by matching their tariff to specific irrigation requirements and by spending $35,000 on an irrigation pump/motor pump upgrade including variable speed drive to a 90kw pump.

“And a North Queensland water board which installed a variable speed drive to one of its pump stations has saved $20,000 per annum, resulting in energy savings for that station of 40%.

“With a payback within two years, the water board is looking to replicate the installation of variable speed drives across a number of its pump stations.

“A dairy farmer was able to achieve energy savings of 30 per cent and a payback period of just months by simply identifying and fixing leaks in an underground bore pump.

“The audits have also identified payback periods between three and seven years for some farmers to install solar PV systems, which can be particularly beneficial for packing sheds that use power consistently.

“Solar hot water can also be a good investment for some farmers to reduce their power bills.”

Mr Bailey said that, to date, one in five of the audited farm enterprises had implemented some or all of the recommendations to reduce their power bills – and they were reporting savings in line with those forecast in the audits.

Case studies featuring many of the completed audits are available at http://www.qff.org.au/projects/energy-savers/ so others in the agriculture sector can consider the opportunities for them to reduce their power bills.

Mr Bailey also encouraged primary producers to check the QFF website and their local associations for details of field days to be attended by the Energy Savers team.

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