Boom in Solar Power for Farmers

There’s an ongoing boom in solar power for farmers – ABC are reporting on some irrigators and cane farmers who are looking to insulate themselves from the rapidly rising costs of technology and increase the value of their properties by installing solar systems on their properties.

Solar Power for Farmers

Solar Power for Farmers
Solar Power on Farms (source: cals.ncsu.edu)

National Irrigators Council chief executive Steve Whan told the ABC that the huge increases in electricity has had a twofold effect: 

a) Farm lobby groups are campaigning to reduce electricity costs for producers who aren’t able to remain competitive with prices so high;

b) Some producers are taking the issue into their own hands and installing PV solar panels and/or storage to mitigate these issues as best as possible.

John Russo, an irrigator in Queensland who has a 200 hectare can farm near Childers, developed a solar powered pump with electrician Michael Betts – it’s expected to halve his current power bills:

“I think the net back to me is something like $20,000 per annum so on investment it’s about 13.5 per cent on investment return [for] maybe six or seven years,” he said.

“Beyond that my energy is very cost efficient.”

Russo uses a combination of solar panels, a variable speed driven pump, and a centre pivot irrigator and according to his statistics he has now tripled the size of his peanut plantings. 

Electrician Betts explained the design a little further (which is a network of pipes and pumps to deliver water at an efficient rate while using as little power as possible):

“We are running an electric pump via a variable speed drive and using the solar to compensate the supply of electricity to that,” Mr Betts said.

As we start seeing more forays into private solar investment in Australia it’s interesting to note them coming from myriad sources – be it rural solar, a warehouse in the middle of the Melbourne CBD, or on top of Aldi’s distribution centre – it just goes to show that the renewable revolution will reach all corners of industry as well as the residential sector.