Energy Savers
South East

Caboolture Horticulture Farm

Energy Savings
Solar Photovoltaic, Solar pumping, Refrigeration, Variable Speed Control
Capital Cost


A horticulture farm located near Caboolture could benefit by saving energy, time and money from recommendations in a recent energy savers audit with a total capital expenditure of $210,000. The audit recommended installing 3 solar systems and 4 new condensing units with Variable Speed Drives (VSD) on the compressor and the condenser fan to reduce the farm energy consumption by 39%, with emission savings of around 97.1 tCO2-e per year.

The farm, near Caboolture, produces strawberries and is irrigated for 9 months of the year depending on rainfall. Water is supplied from on-site irrigation dams which are replenished from rainfall. The farm has two main pump houses which irrigate two farming areas, and a large packing shed with cold rooms. 

It is a large site consuming 310,000kWh of electricity per year at a cost of $95,000, and harvests 1,200T of strawberries over 30 hectares.

The infrastructure contributing to the energy consumption onsite consists of:

  • A pump shed containing 3 x 37kW pumps in series that serves one area of the farm.
  • A pump shed containing 3 x 55kW pumps in series that serves a different area.
  • 4 large cold rooms with separate condensers, around 20 years old.
  • Large packing shed with sorting equipment.
  • Workers accommodation.

A recent energy audit showed how improving the current systems can lead to energy and cost savings. The energy audit recommended the following changes to improve efficiency and reduce costs:

  • Installation of 3 solar PV systems, a 30kW system for the packing shed, a 20kW ground-mounted solar system for the smaller pump shed, and a 30kW ground-mounted solar system for the large pump shed. 
  • Replace the 4 cold room condensers with new units with Variable Speed Drives (VSD) on the compressor and the condenser fan.

An additional recommendation was to upgrade the air conditioning system in workers accommodation with a single VRF (variable refrigerant flow) unit with multiple heads, which has been found to be approximately 25% more efficient than the current split systems.  

Table 1. Energy and cost savings from audit recommendations

Recommendations Annual Energy Savings (kWh) Annual Cost Savings ($) Emission Savings (tCO2-e)  Capital Cost ($) Payback Period (years)
30kW Solar on packing shed  40,000 6,310 32.4 45,000 7.1
20kW solar on pump shed  17,300 3,440 14 34,000 9.9
30kW solar on pump 35,000 10,500 28.4 51,000 4.9
Replace condensing units on cold rooms  27,500 5,750 22.3 80,000 14
Total 119,800 26,000 97.1 210,000 9


Following the audit report recommendations, the grower will assess the options and may implement them in the future.

By installing the recommendations in the audit, the business could reduce energy consumption by 39% and costs by 27%, with carbon emission savings of 97.1 tCO2-e per year.

Table 2. Pre and post audit energy consumption, costs, and energy productivity savings

Metric Pre-Audit Post-Audit Reduction (%)
Energy Consumption (kWh) 310,000 190,200 39
Cost ($) 95,000 69,000 27
Energy Productivity (kWh/tonne) 260 158 39


An energy audit is a good investment 

An energy audit is a great first step in moving a business towards a more efficient future by reducing energy use, costs and carbon emissions onsite.  

An energy auditor will review your past energy bills, your equipment and the way your business operates. They’ll show you where you’re 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. 


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