Energy Savers

Queensland Cane Farms

Energy Savings
Solar Photovoltaic, Irrigation, Pump upgrade, Variable Speed Control, Lighting
Capital Cost


This case study highlights the outcomes of energy audits on 52 Sugar Cane farms taking part in the Energy Savers program.

The total energy consumption from the measured areas on the 52 farms was 5,131,314 kWh at an annual cost of $1,384,169 resulting in emissions of 4,156 tonnes of CO2-e. 

Opportunities:  the main opportunities identified on Cane farms include: 

  • Pumping and Irrigation- Savings from Variable Speed Drive installation, pump replacements and maintenance and changes to irrigation design and automation. 
  • Lighting and General- Replacement and retrofitting of lights with LEDs, infrastructure upgrades to facilitate efficiency gains and general management changes. 
  • Solar Systems- Ranging in size from 5-100kW systems. 

Table 1. Technology Recommendations and Savings in the Sugar Cane Industry. 

Recommendation  Total  Energy Savings (kWh)  Cost Savings ($)  Capital Cost ($)  Average Payback (Years)  Emission Reduction (tCO2-e) 
Pumping and Irrigation Upgrades  126 1,694,152  797,126  3,304,497  5.2  1,372
Lighting and General  33 267,287  134,945  420,123  4.2  217
Solar Systems  27 605,131  158,546  583,142  3.8  490
Total Cane  186 2,566,570  1,090,617  4,307,762  4.4  2,079

Total Recommendations 

(All Sectors) 

665  7,459,015  2,817,342     12,784,670  6.85  6,042


Table 1 highlights the potential energy savings of 2,566,570kWh identified in the audits 


Including production benefits, a saving of $1,090,617 and an estimated 2,079 tonnes of CO2-e could be realised per annum. At a capital cost of $4,307,762, the average payback was 4.4 years. 

Additional value adding from the energy audits showed how an increase in water delivery, and in some cases energy consumption, shows a potential increase in productioand profit with a reduction in energy consumed per unit of output.  

Table 2. Pre and Post Audit Metrics.  

Metric  Pre-Audits  Post-Audits  Reduction (%) 
Energy Consumption (kWh)  5,131,314  2,564,744  50 
Energy Costs ($)  1,384,169  293,552  78 
Emissions (tCO2-e)  4,156 2,077 50 


As the installation of the recommendations is made within the industry, measurement and verification will be undertaken, and case studies will be updated to include the actual energy savings. 

cane graph

Energy Efficiency for your Industry and Business 

An energy audit is a great way for a business to cut costs, reduce emissions and boost productivity.  

The audits show that there are significant opportunities in the cane industry to improve energy efficiency by investigating the pumping and irrigation systemsMareeba Cane farm has saved $9,500 per year by improving its irrigation system at no capital cost, to see more details click HERE 

To keep up to date with the changes taking place in the energy space sign up for the e-news HERE 


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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