Energy Savers

Central Queensland Irrigation Farm

Energy Savings
Beef and Cattle & Grains and Fodder
Cattle and Fodder
Solar Photovoltaic, Pump upgrade

Farm Profile

A Central Queensland pastoral producing fodder and cattle could reduce energy consumption and costs by installing recommendations in a recent energy audit. Consuming a total of 30,893kWh at a cost of $12,030.

The 5,750ha farm has a remote pumping system consisting of a creek pump to pump water from the creek to a 200ML dam in large flow events; and a transfer pump to move the water to another storage some 6km away.

The pumping systems have not been used much in the previous two years, so the audit analysis is comparing against years of low consumption.

Two grid-connected solar PV systems have been recommended: a 10kW and 5kW solar system have the potential to reduce consumption and costs by 15,130kW, and $4,349 per annum as shown at table 2.

The audit considered various standalone options to replace a permanent electricity supply point at a creek pumping site to allow the pumps to operate off-grid once the grid connection is removed.

The off-grid replacement systems analysed were (Table 2): 

  1. Hybrid solar/battery system;
  2. Hybrid 15kW solar/diesel system;
  3. Installation of genset;
  4. Installation of diesel engine;
  5. Installation of a 7kW solar system to operate the smaller transfer pump.

The creek pump only operates during periods of flow occurring once every two to three years, filling a 200ML storage dam and consuming approximately 8,400kWh 

Table 1. Audit recommendations showing energycost savings and payback period. 

Reccomendation  Energy Savings (kWh)  Cost Savings ($)  Payback Period (Years) 
Solar Systems 10kW and 5kW (Combined)  15,130  4,349  3.9 


Table 2: Potential off-grid replacement systems 

Alternative Energy Source Options 
Hybrid Solar/Battery  9,200  2,472  120 
Hybrid Solar/Diesel  9,200  30.86  2,085 (not a typo) 
Installation of Genset 


8,400  668  25.9 
Installation of diesel engine creek   8,400  668  25.9 
Installation of 7kW Solar on the transfer pump 


800  215  72.3 


The audit considered the following matters surrounding genset operation when designing to match the creek pump:

  • In-rush current: normal operation of the pump requires 38kVA, however start-up requires 111kVA, with a 129kVA genset therefore being recommended to cover the load.  
  • Once the pump is started the genset load returns to around 12 per cent. With a recommended operating load of between 70-80 per cent there is a risk that glazing will occur on the cylinders leading to increased operating costs and potential failure of the equipment.  

These constraints surrounding the normal functioning of the genset meant the best option available would be the installation of a diesel engine, showing a comparative 25.9-year payback. 

It’s important to note that the payback period may not be a valid measure in this case as it is proposed to remove the grid connection and although there is longer payback period, an energy and cost saving will be realised. 

Consuming 30,893kWh per annum with 2300 head of cattle sees the farm using 13.43kW/head.  

By implementing recommendations in the audit, the site has the potential to reduce energy use and the kWh/unit of production by 76 per cent, as well as COemissions by 12.1 tonnes. 

Table 3. Pre and Post Audit, and kWh/unit of production. 

Metric  Pre-Audit  Post Audit 
Energy Consumption (kWh)  30,893   7,363 
Energy Costs ($)  12,030  7,013 
kWh/unit of production  13.43  3.20 


An energy audit is a good investment 

An energy audit is a great way for a business to cut costs and boost productivity. Find out about what’s involved in an energy audit 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 in by the Queensland Farmers Federation with support and funding from the Queensland Department of Energy and Public Works.