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Ag News

More Farms using solar to reduce costs

  • By: "Prime" Ag News
  • Feb 12, 2018

A Brookstead cotton farmer, Don Baartz has installed a 25kW solar power system to cut the pumping costs on an 18kW bore pump. The pump draws 180ML per annum at 1.65ML per day for about 110 days, using nearly 49,000 kWh per year.

The solar system has been sized so that on a clear day, it will run the pump from about 8am until 4pm, and most of the grid power will therefore be used during off-peak times.

With a total cost (after SRECs) of $37,600 the system is saving over $8,000 each year in electricity costs.

The farm can also earn up to $5,000 per year for exporting surplus power which brings the total annual cost saving up to $12 – $13K.

The project has been financed with the NAB using the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s Co-financing partnerships  

A number of innovations include the pier design for the Brookstead soils and the latest inverter technology to ensure power quality and gathering of grid voltage data so that the grower can check on the operation of the pump and the solar array in real time.

Don has been so impressed that he installed a 30kW PV system to supply 75% of the power for another pump though it’s got off to a rocky start after being damaged in the boxing day storm.

As well as the electricity cost saving and the good payback period, the most surprising benefit that Don didn’t count on is the ease of operation and the power quality. Don said:

“it just does its stuff. All the equipment is reliable, you don’t have to be involved, it’s a clean return on investment as there’s no labour input.  It’s self-sufficient.”

“It does do a really good job of cleaning up the voltage which is often low – it senses the mains voltage and controls power to the pump at around 412V so the pumps don’t trip out on high amp draw.”  

“I can easily set it up to turn the pump on and off from the phone, but haven’t done that at this stage.”