After completing Energy Savers Plus Project Extension energy audits on participating feedlots and grain farms, auditors have identified some quick wins to improve on-farm energy efficiency.
Some feedlots produce grain onsite from feed mills that use a variety of single and three phase motors. Typically, their energy use is due to lifts and conveyors which carry harvested grain to temperature-controlled silos where it is stored.
The auditors have recommend a few easy wins including:
- General motor maintenance with regular cleaning of the blades and motor frame using compressed air. Dust and reduced airflow can increase stator temperature which reduces efficiency. This increase in heat can burn out motors prematurely reducing the life span of your investment. For example, a smaller 5kw motor running 15 degrees above optimum temperature would likely require replacement every two years, prematurely reducing the life span of your investment.
- Replacement of phase-shifting capacitors on older single-phase motors which can burn out over time, leading to poor power factor. The recommended replacement in one feedlot would lead to a 0.5kVA reduction in demand with a quick payback of one to two years and an average cost of $500.
- Additionally, it is important to ensure electrical infrastructure is installed prior to commissioning new plant. Increased heat reduces efficiency and breaks down the insulation windings ultimately leading to failure. For example, a temporary installation using a 25m extension cord can see a 15volt drop across its entirety leading to an increase in amps and additional heat losses.
- Replacing old light fittings with LEDs. For example, replacement of metal halides with new LEDs on one grain farm showed a reduction of 1,872 kWh and 1.8kVA in demand. With a payback period of 4.5 years, it made sense on this farm to replace the failing lights with new technology. Other benefits include reducing the number of lights required, as LEDs are a superior source of light, run at lower temperatures, have an increased life expectancy, decrease start up current, reduce demand and enable longer run times at a reduced cost.
A recent audit of a 6,000 head per annum feedlot found they could lower their energy cost per head from $4.30 to 86 cents. While a grain farm with current costs at $2.90/t would benefit from increased efficiencies by lowering costs to $1.14/t.
The Energy Savers Project Extension is run by the Queensland Farmers’ Federation and its members with the support of the Queensland Government, you can read more about the project here: https://www.qff.org.au/projects/energy-savers/.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to improve your on-farm energy efficiency.