Farmers turn to renewables and storage to avoid blackouts, price rises
AN increasing number of Australian farmers are turning to renewable energy and battery storage in order to avoid repeated blackouts and rising power prices which threaten their operations.
Victorian dairy farmer Karrinjeet Singh-Mahil operates a 150-hectare property near Warrnambool.
“For us, a blackout can have serious ramifications for business because our dairy relies on a secure supply. If there’s no power we have no choice but to leave our cows in the paddock. We often get blackouts when a storm rolls through or during summer, when everyone in town turns on their air-conditioning.”
A survey of 1338 Australian farmers revealed that more than 650 of them had already installed solar, wind or storage on their properties. Eight in 10 also said they supported the country’s move toward 100% renewable energy.
Everyone that completed the survey went into the running to win a Beam Energy and Flex solar system and battery storage by Enphase Energy worth $15,000 for their farm. Ms Singh-Mahil was the lucky winner, and is expecting to save $1000 a year with her new 3.2 kilowatt (KW) solar system and two 1.2 kilowatt hour (kWh) Enphase AC batteries.
She said renewable energy and storage can not only benefit farming operations but also help shore up everyone else’s energy security.
“Farmers are huge users of electricity so anything we can do to reduce our usage and therefore our costs is a positive move for us,” Ms Singh-Mahil said.
“But there’s also the bigger picture: we are helping to reduce emissions and everyone with solar helps reduce peak demand which is good for the whole community.”
Farmers for Climate Action co-chair Charlie Prell said renewable energy and storage made sense for farmers because it was cheaper, cleaner, more reliable and can happily co-exist with farming operations.
“Wind and solar power is cheap, and getting cheaper all the time. They are already cheaper than building new coal or gas. Battery technology is also becoming more affordable on a commercial scale, and more efficient as the technology improves. Why would anyone be interested in investing in traditional generation when not even the banks will lend money to outmoded technologies.”
“A future of more renewables makes economic, as well as environmental sense”, Mr Prell said.
Beam Energy donated the solar system prize, which is expected to produce 4200kWh of electricity for Mrs Singh-Mahil’s farm every year – or enough to provide the energy needs of a two-person house.
Director of commercial at Beam Energy, Andrew Coffey encourages farmers and rural communities to take advantage of solar and batteries and start saving immediately.
“Australians have a fantastic opportunity to generate more of their own power, gain independence and reliability, and reduce costs, while helping to improve the stability of Australia’s power supply.”
Enphase Energy donated two Enphase AC Batteries to Mrs Singh-Mahil. Managing director, Nathan Dunn says batteries allow people to store any unused energy generated from rooftop solar for use at a later time such as at night or during peak demand periods.
“This has a two-fold benefit of reducing demand on the grid at peak periods, as well as reducing owner’s electricity costs by avoiding additional charges normally associated with peak demand periods. Besides reducing their reliance on the grid, using solar power helps the agricultural industry to further reduce its overall impact on the environment, Mr Dunn said.
Media inquiries: Greg Muller, [email protected], 0414 654 288
Australian Farmers for Climate Action is an alliance of farmers and leaders in agriculture who are working with our peers, the wider sector and decision-makers to make sure Australia takes the actions necessary to address damage to our climate.
Beam Energy Labs is rethinking power supply to farms and rural businesses. The future we see is one where rural Australians and businesses own their own low-cost and reliable solar power generation systems independent of the grid.
Enphase Energy, a global energy technology company, delivers smart, easy-to-use solutions which connect solar generation, storage and management on one intelligent platform.