Energy Savers
Wide Bay Burnett

Gin Gin Sugar Cane Farm

Energy Savings
Travelling Gun
Variable Speed Control, Change Irrigation Type, Tariffs
Capital Cost


The current irrigation system is run by two pump sites on two separate farms in Gin Gin. A recent energy audit showed how improving the current systems can lead to energy and cost savings. Energy savings of 34% and carbon reduction of  21.6 t CO2-e have been estimated with a total capital cost of $200,555. The recommendations explored in the audit included installing a Variable Speed Drive (VSD) to pump one, installing a centre pivot irrigator at pump site two, and change to tariff 33.

A sugarcane farming enterprise located in Gin Gin could benefit from a recent Energy Savers Audit. Farming requires constant decision making to maximise production and profit. Often irrigation systems are out of date and are in need of replacement to incorporate new technologies and updated knowledge.

The farm area consists of 121 ha however only 81 ha are cultivated. The cropping area is around 60 ha which is serviced by two pumps at two different locations. Pump one only irrigates a relatively small area of 18.75 ha using a high-pressure travelling gun system and to date, the efficiency of the pump has been relatively good (67%). On property two, the total cropping area is 52 ha, historically used for sugarcane cropping but currently being used for grazing cattle. The plan is to return around 40 ha to sugarcane production and run it through pump two. The Irrigation Pump Evaluation and Reporting Tool (IPERT) report indicated that pump two efficiency was low (44.85%) and cost at peak time use was high ($129.75/ML), so the audit proposed a centre pivot irrigation system.

Energy consumption from the two pumps sites showed that a total of 78,510 kWh at a cost of $20,843 was used during the 2018-2019 period while on tariff 65 (based on projections for pump two as the property is in the development stage). A recent energy audit showed how improving the current systems can lead to energy and cost savings. The recommendations explored in the audit included:

  • Install Variable Speed Drive (VSD) to pump one
  • Install a centre pivot irrigator (low pressure overhead) at pump site two, to reduce the amount of high pressure irrigation used, having the capacity to deliver sufficient water at an application rate within the daily demand of the crop.
  • Change to tariff 33

Table 1. Energy savings from audit recommendations

Recommendations Annual Energy Savings (kWh) Annual Cost Savings ($) Emission Savings (tCO2-e)  Capital Cost ($) Payback Period (years)
Install VSD in pump 1 9,530 2,522 7.6 6,077 2.4
Centre Pivot in pump 2 17,433 33,437 14.0 189,478 5.7
Change to Tariff 33 3,753 5,000 1.3
Total 26,973 39,712 21.6 200,555 5.1


Energy demand is estimated to improve by 30% with the installation of a VSD. The centre pivot irrigator will provide lower operating cost and the potential for sustained long term high levels of production. The splitting of the farm irrigation duty to 60% pivot (24 ha) with the remainder of the area continuing with travelling gun under the proposed upgrade will enable simultaneous operation which will allow both irrigation systems to meet the crop demand.

By installing the recommendations in the audit, the business could reduce energy consumption for pumping by 34% and costs by 191%, including productivity gains, with carbon emission savings of 21.6 tCO2e per year, which will enhance the profitability and productivity of the farm.

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

Metric  Pre-Audit  Post-Audit  Reduction (%)
Energy Consumption (kWh) 78,510 51,537 34
Cost ($)  20,843 -18,869 191
Energy Productivity (kWh/ha) 1,308 859 34

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  

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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