Energy Savers
Wide Bay Burnett

Moore Sugar Cane Farm

Energy Savings
Travelling Gun, Flood
Pump upgrade
Capital Cost


A recent energy audit showed how improving the current pumping system conformed by five pumps can lead to energy and cost savings. The recommendations explored in the audit included the installation of VFD at pumps one, two, three, and five, as well as conversion to Tariff 33 at pumps two, three, and five.

The farmer has implemented the Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) at the corresponding pumps. Savings will be updated when the measurement and verification process is complete.

A sugarcane farming enterprise located in Moore Park Beach 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 Often irrigation systems are out of date and are in need of replacement to incorporate new technologies and updated knowledge.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 total area of cropping lands consists of 244 ha and is divided into three sectors that are serviced by five pumps. Although there are five operational pumps, only four analyses are reported as Pump four was unable to be obtained due to droughts experienced during the audit.

Pump one services 55 ha and has been experiencing operational difficulties noted as severe pump cavitation, slow system fill on start-up, evidence of iron oxide issues, and some pipe fitting irregularities. This pump provides water to a high-pressure gun and low-pressure flood irrigation. Pumps two, three, and four are interconnected by an underground mainline which supplies water to 139 ha. Pumping distances and efficiency issues associated with friction mean that the best operational procedure in sector two is to irrigate the area closest to each pump. Pump five draws its water supply from the Bundaberg surface water supply scheme and has a system design that manages distribution pressure via a manual check valve. Unfortunately, this is a highly expensive way to achieve this outcome. Pump four is located on a gully dam within grazing land attached to the sugarcane operation. The pumping unit is relatively new and is fitted with VFD and connected to Tariff 33.

Energy consumption from the site showed that a total of 426,071 kWh at a cost of $91,008 was used during the 2018-2019 period. A recent energy audit showed how improving the current systems can lead to energy and cost savings. The recommendations explored in the audit included:

  • The installation of VFD at pumps one, two, three, and five.
  • Conversion to Tariff 33 at pumps two, three, and five.

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 VFD in 4 pumps 105,174 27,768 85.2 33,300 1.4
Change 3 pumps to tariff 33 11,016 7,500 0.8
Total 105,174 38,829 85.2 40,800 1.1


The addressing of the operational issues related to iron sludge restrictions and replacement of suction pipe fittings at pump one will improve the functionality of the pumping system and improve performance. Repairs and maintenance or replacement of the Southern Cross pump will further enhance the functionality and performance of the pumping system. Energy demand and consumption will decline with the introduction of VFD technology which will manage the system operating head (m) to meet the specific target demand.

The farmer proceeded with the implementation of the VFDs, with potential energy consumption savings of 25%, costs savings of 31%, and carbon emission savings of 85.2 tCO2-e per year. Actual savings will be updated once the measurement and verification process is complete.

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

Metric  Pre-Audit  Post-Audit  Reduction (%)
Energy Consumption (kWh) 426,071 320,897 25
Cost ($)  91,008 63,240 31
Energy Productivity (kWh/ha) 1,746 1,315 25

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 on site.  

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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