Improvements in energy efficiency technologies such as LED lighting and variable frequency drives are seeing cost reductions and productivity benefits, for example in the chicken meat industry where new ventilation technologies offer high energy and cost saving potential.
Since 2010, the efficiency of solar panels have increased while their cost of has come down by 84 per cent with an 18% per cent decrease since early 2018. Moreover, battery costs have fallen by a third since 2018.
We’ve put together a snapshot showing where technologies may help cut your power bill.
Image: Proven Energy Management.
Energy Monitoring and Control
They say “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” and energy is no exception.
New technologies are able to monitor your energy consumption in real time to help you make informed decisions. There are smart meters that your electrician can easily install behind your main meter in your meter box that send data to a smart phone application.
These technologies help farms see their current consumption and renewable generation, set alerts and reminders and switch appliances on or off.
The Energy Savers program will put 50 real-time energy monitoring devices in farms over the next two years to demonstrate how they can help farms manage their energy consumption and cost.
These metering technologies are opening the door to new market offerings:
- Demand Response Trials are underway where businesses will be able to sign up to offer up demand during peak times for energy bill savings. These trails in New South Wales and Victoria are already showing significant benefits.
- System technologies such as virtual power stations and peer-to-peer trading will allow people to trade power across sites or farms such as in this trial with Gippsland Dairies.
Combined with soil moisture monitoring or refrigeration system monitoring, these technologies will give farmers access to large amounts of real-time information to ensure systems are operating efficiently and keep energy consumption down.
Solar heating uses roof-mounted collectors to heat water or to provide heat for manufacturing processes.
De Bortoli wines use 3,000 evacuated tubes to heat 12,000 litres of hot water to 95 degrees per day. A Queensland nursery is using the same technology to warm one of its greenhouses while an energy savers audit on a south east Queensland dairy assessed a number of water heating opportunities and found the solar hot water was the most cost-effective option.
One of the best-known examples is Sundrop farms where solar thermal technology uses heat to desalinate seawater, generate power and provide glasshouse heating.
There have been several new developments in bioenergy with some new technologies and business models including the development of biohubs and the conversion of biomass to energy sources:
- The Rainbow Bee Eater ECHO2 is a new technology developed in Western Australia to turn farm waste into biochar and natural gas which can be used to generate heat or electricity.
- A Queensland consortium will develop technologies to integrate bioenergy into sugar cane production by converting field residues which were previously considered low-value. The result will be low-cost biofuels to drive farm machinery.
The Queensland Government is investing heavily in biofutures with a number of programs currently open.
For more information about these energy efficiency technologies and their application, check out more than 50 case studies from recent audit recipients demonstrating how farmers are making cost savings though adoption of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies here.