Energy Savers
Dry Tropics

Telamon Sugar Cane Farm

Energy Savings
Bore, Submersible, Turbine, Centrifugal
Pump upgrade
Capital Cost


A recent energy audit showed how improving the current systems can lead to energy and cost savings while improving productivity. The recommendations explored in the audit included the replacement of the bore pump, VFD, and automation of the irrigation system.

The farmer has installed the new bore pump. Savings will be updated when the measurement and verification process is complete.

A 128ha cane farm producing on average 130tc/ha located in Home Hill could reduce energy consumption and costs while improving production by implementing recommendations in a recent Energy Savers Audit.

Cane production typically relies on energy for pumping and irrigation which is linked to the soil type, rainfall distribution, and severity of dry periodsAs a result, there can be variability in Tonnes of cane harvested per hectareA recent energy savers audit looked at ways to reduce energy consumption and costs as well as improve productivity by increasing water delivery with assistance from automation. The use of new efficient bore will relieve a secondary pump and allow more water to be applied over the current cropping area.

The farm currently operates using obsolete Tariff 66, with three pumps that consume 61,324kWh per annum at a cost of $20,696. From the datathe farm produced 16,640 tonnes of cane using 3.68kWh per tonne at the recent harvest. A quick win found in the tariff review showed that the site could save $6,186 per annum immediately by moving to Tariff 33 (Load Control) in combination with Tariff 20A (Time of Use). 

Table 1. Current pumping system and costs savings by changing tariffs. 

Pump  Energy Consumption (kWh) Current Cost Tariff 66 ($)  Moving to Tariff 33 and 20 ($) 
One (22.38kW) 




Two (16.65kW) 




Three (18.65kW) 









With tariff savings in mind, the farm focus is increasing the efficiency of the pumping system. The audit showed pumps 1 & 2 to be efficient, though recommended to replace the existing well with a high yielding boreThe new bore will also improve the system capacity to deliver more water resulting in the potential to increase yield over the 51.65ha while providing relief to the other two pumps. It was also recommended to install a variable frequency drive (VFD) on the new pump to maximise the benefits of the solution.

The audit also identified that automation would be relatively simple, as much of the infrastructure is in place, and only three pumps to operate. reduction of 10-20% in water use has been estimated if automation using smart sensors were to be introduced as less energy is required for pumping with the device operating according to soil moisture measurements. This also has the potential to increase crop yields using a choice of irrigation scheduling tools. Additional benefits of automation include reductions in labour, fuel, vehicle repairs, and maintenance (estimated at around $4,900). Automation will provide the benefits above plus enable easier management of peak/off-peak tariff changes under Tariff 22A24, or inconsistent supply, which can be experienced using Tariff 33.  

 Table 2. Energy savings from audit recommendations

Recommendation  Cost to Implement ($)  Energy Savings (kWh)  Cost Savings ($)  Payback Period
Emission Savings
Replace well with high yield bore 44,850 7,915  2,374 18.9  6.4 
Automation  12,000 3,698  1,109  10.8 
Install both recommendations with an addition of 200ML of water  56,850 34,471  15,241  3.7  27.9 

By replacing the well with a high yielding bore and increasing the amount pumped by 200 ML per annum the savings increase substantially due to an increase in profit from higher yields as a result of an increase in tonnes of cane produced. The payback period would be reduced from 13.5 years to just 3.7 years from an increase in water deliveryUsing these recommendations, the farm would reduce its kWh per tonne of cane by 56% to 1.61kWh/tc. 

The farmer proceeded with the installation of the new bore pump, with potential energy consumption savings of 13%, costs savings of 12%, and carbon emission savings of 6.4 tCO2-e per year. Actual savings will be updated once the measurement and verification process is complete.

Table 3. Pre and post audit energy consumption, costs, and energy productivity savings 

Metric  Pre-Audit  Post-Audit  Reduction (%)
Energy Consumption (kWh) 61,324 53,409 13
Cost ($) 20,696 18,322 12
Energy Productivity (kWh/ha) 479 417 13


An energy audit is a good investment 

An energy audit is a great way for a business to cut costs resource use and boost productivity. 

An energy auditor will review your past energy bills, your equipment, and the way your business operates. They will show you where you are using excess energy and explain what you can do about it.  Find out about what’s involved in an energy audit HERE. 

See our range of agricultural energy efficiency case studies HERE and subscribe to our bi-monthly energy e-news HERE  

If you have any energy efficiency related questions for the team get in touch at energysavers@qff.org.au. 


The Energy Savers Plus Extension Program is delivered by the Queensland Farmers Federation with support and funding from the Queensland Department of Energy and Public Works.  


Farmer Feedback
My pumping is much more efficient now. It was a worthwhile project.