Energy Savers

Queensland Cotton Farms

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


This case study summarises the outcomes from audits conducted on 8 Queensland Cotton farms taking part of the Energy Savers Program. Additional benefits of increase in water delivery can improve the profitability of the industry.

The total energy consumption from the measured areas on the eight cotton farms was 886,171kWh at an annual cost of $239,405, resulting in emissions of 718 tonnes of CO2-e. Energy and emission savings have been estimated at around 40%.

Opportunities:  the main opportunities identified on Cotton 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 Cotton Industry. 

Recommendation  Total  Energy Savings (kWh)  Cost Savings ($)  Capital Cost ($)  Average Payback (Years) 

Emission Reductions (tCO2-e) 

Pumping and Irrigation Upgrades 

11  154,415  32,282  177,610  6.6 


Lighting and General 

1  N/A  1,000  1,000  0.4 


Solar Systems 

13  198,325  71,707  309,630  3.9 




352,740  106,589  488,240  3.6 


Total Recommendations 

(All sectors) 

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



Table 1 highlights the potential energy savings of 352,740kWh identified in the audits.  

cotton pie

Cost savings of $106,589 and an estimated 286 tonnes of CO2-e could be avoided per annum. At a capital cost of $488,240, the average payback was 3.6 years. 

Additional value adding from the energy audits showed how an increase in water delivery, could increase production and 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) 

886,171  533,431 


Energy Costs ($) 

239,405  132,816 


Emissions (tCO2-e) 

718 432



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.  

cotton graph

Energy Efficiency for your Industry and Business 

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

The audits show that there are significant opportunities in the cotton industry to improve energy efficiency by investigating the pumping and irrigation systems as well as by implementing solar systems. A cotton farm in Brookstead has saved $1,200 per year by upgrading a pump system at a capital cost of $3,000, to see more details click HERE 

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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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