Energy Savers
Southern Downs

Stanthorpe Horticulture Farm

Energy Savings
Drip, Micro irrigation
Pump upgrade, Variable Speed Control, Refrigeration
Capital Cost


Of the energy-saving opportunities evaluated, four initiatives were identified with potential energy savings of 10%, a combined payback period of 2.8 years and carbon savings of 79 tCO2-e per year.

The farm, near Stanthorpe, produces apples using several different sites with a combined orchard area of 150 hectares, however, the main site has been the focus of the audit. 

The site energy consumption consist of:

  • A cold storage facility with 16 cold rooms with capacities ranging between 280 and 630 bins of apples using air cooled refrigeration units.
  • Ammonia refrigeration system that supplies the bulk cold store (1,000 bin capacity) and an additional six cold rooms ranging between 300 and 600 bins.
  • Apple processing line.
  • Seven irrigation pumps of around 22 kW.
  • Two water harvesting pumps.

The majority of site energy consumption is used for refrigeration, with a small amount for processing and packaging facilities, and irrigation pumping. The annual energy consumption for the site is 1,105,000 kWh at a cost of $268,000. 

recent energy audit showed how improving the current systems can lead to energy and cost savings by investing $91,600, the recommendations explored in the audit included: 

  • Install Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) on three 22kW irrigation pumps (pumps 1, 2 and 3) to allow more efficient operation at variable duties. 
  • Refurbishment of 3 irrigation pumps (pumps 1, 2 and 3). 
  • Install Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) to 12 refrigeration compressors to run more efficiently at low load.
  • Remediation of condenser and evaporator coils.

Table 1. Energy savings from audit recommendations 

Recommendation  Energy savings (kWh)  Cost Savings ($)  Emission Savings (tCO2-e)  Payback Period (Years)  Cost to Implement ($) 
3x 22kW Irrigation pumps refurbishment 11,733 2,182 9 3.8 8,250
3x 22kW Irrigation pumps Variable Speed Control 49,731 9,008 26 3.1 27,765
12 compressors Variable Speed Control 42,187 16,130 34 2.3 37,114
Coil remediation 12,192 4,831 10 3.8 18,480
Total  115,843 32,151 79 2.8 91,609


The energy audit also recommended a network tariff review to realise potential savings of $476 per annum.

By installing all the recommendations in the audit, the business could reduce energy consumption by 10%, and costs by 12%, with carbon emission savings of 79 tCO2e per year. 

Table 2. Pre and post audit energy consumption and costs. 

Audit Metric  Pre-Audit  Post-Audit  Reduction (%)
Energy Consumption (kWh)  1,105,000 989,157  10
Energy Costs ($)  268,000 235,849  12
Emission (tCO2-e)  869 790  10


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 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.