Energy Savers
South East

South East Queensland chicken meat farm

Energy Savings
Solar Photovoltaic, Power Factor Correction
Capital Cost

Farm Profile

A South East Queensland chicken meat farm with eight sheds found an energy audit to provide helpful guidance about where to spend their capital investment on the farm.

The need to provide adequate ventilation, heating and lighting for the birds’ welfare means the farm is a large energy user consuming over 500,000kWh each year at a cost of more than $100,000. The location has occasional issues with reliable power and large backup generators are in place.

The farm has already incorporated LED lighting and has started changing over to direct drive, variable speed ventilation fans in some sheds.

Broiler shed electricity demand is composed of the following:

  • Fans 49% total energy used
  • Lighting 27%
  • Feed motors 3%

An energy audit onsite identified areas to improve energy efficiency with recommendations to

  • Install Power factor correction
  • Install energy-efficient ventilation fans
  • Consider Solar tube controlled natural lighting
  • Consider Large scale solar PV and battery storage.

The audit assessed several scenarios for reducing ventilation energy consumption.

Rather than replace all ventilation fans in a shed-by-shed strategy, the audit considered several scenarios from four to 12 replacements per shed starting with the four most frequently used fans.

Replacing the four most frequently used fans would reduce power consumption by over 100,000kWh per annum, with that saving increasing to over 160,000 kWh per year if all 12 fans in each shed were replaced.

Note, however, that if a new Power Factor Correction (PFC) Unit was installed, the savings from the fan upgrades are reduced, as new EC fans will improve power factor, reducing demand. Once PFC is included, the fan replacements no longer have a demand saving, so the payback is not as appealing.

Solution Upgrade 4 fans per shed (with PFC installed as above) Upgrade 4 fans per shed (no PFC) Upgrade 8 fans per shed (no PFC) Upgrade 12 fans per shed (no PFC)
Energy Savings (kWh) 108,000 108,000 141,000 162,000
Demand Savings (kW) 0 31 63 73
Cost Savings ($) 5,700 16,800 26,500 30,700
Capital Cost ($) 145,000 145,000 280,000 440,000
Payback (years) 24 8.3 10.5 14.3


Potential energy savings from installing Solar Tubes to provide daytime shed lighting were modelled. Lighting consumption is already relatively low as LED lights have been installed in all sheds. Solar tube controlled natural lighting would save 55,188 kWh with a large payback of 24 years. In this case, therefore, it would not be viable to replace efficient LED lights although this could be an option for a new built shed or upgrade of less efficient lighting.

Solution Power Factor Correction (Above) 27kW Roof Mounted Solar PV System Solar Tube: Controlled Natural Lighting
Energy Savings (kWh) 45,990 55,188
Demand Savings (kW) 62 17 0
Cost Savings ($) 9,300 8,500 5,710
Capital Cost ($) $36,000 $46,000 $145,000
Payback (years) 3.9 5.4 24


The auditor modelled the Installation of a three-phase 350 kW solar system coupled with a 1,000kWh battery bank which would enable the farm to operate off-grid. The backup generators rated at 360 kW with the grid connection would provide increased reliability measures. Although, with a battery life of around 15 years, the 18-year payback shows the technology is not quite there economically.

Should the farm implement batteries in the future, as costs come down, they will be well poised to take advantage of peer to peer trading through the generation from their assets. Reductions in energy use have the potential to increase profit by lowering operating costs.

Whilst the fans would reduce consumption and improve power factor, at a cost of $36,000, the Power Factor Correction units provide a quick return on investment at a relatively low cost. A demand reduction of 62 kVAR would be achieved saving the farm $9,347 each year on their electricity bills from implementing this recommendation alone.

Achieving energy savings across the farm is not limited to large capital expenditures. Life expectancy and efficiency can be improved with the general maintenance of equipment.

As a participant in the Energy Savers Plus Program Extension (ESPPE) the farm is eligible for a grant of up to $20,000 to help fund the improvements. Added benefits include greenhouse gas emission reductions of 37 tCO2-e per year.

These estimated costs and savings will be updated to actual savings once the farmer has implemented the projects.

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.