Energy Savers
Southern Downs

Stanthorpe Horticulture Farm

Energy Savings
Apples, cherries, peaches, plums
Drip, Micro irrigation
Variable Speed Control, Lighting
Capital Cost


Of the energy-saving opportunities evaluated, two initiatives were identified with potential energy savings of 17%, a combined payback period of 2.6 years and carbon savings of 7.4 tCO2-e per year.

The 40 hectare orchard is located near Stanthorpe and produces several varieties of red and green apples, as well as cherries, peaches and plums. During harvest season, apples are picked in the morning and packed in the afternoon, ready for delivery to the customer, which are generally supermarkets.

The site energy consumption consist of:

  • The main shed that includes a packing line and two cool rooms for refrigeration storage.
  • The packing line that uses conveyer belt motors, washers (with associated pumps), sorting motors and a gas heater.
  • A 7.5 kW irrigation pump that supplies water from an on-site dam to the dripper irrigation system.
  • A 30 kW solar PV system that offsets imported electricity from the grid.

The energy consumption is used for the packaging facilities and the two cool rooms where apples are stored at 1°C before and after processing. The annual farm energy consumption is 110,000 kWh at a cost of $31,984. 

recent energy audit showed how improving the current systems can lead to energy and cost savings by investing $12,011, the recommendations explored in the audit included: 

  • Install Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) on two refrigeration compressors in the packing shed to run more efficiently at low load. 
  • Replacing 13 fluorescent lamps in the main shed with energy efficient LED lamps.
  • Compressor upgrade for three cool rooms.
  • Remediation of condenser and evaporator coils.
  • Install Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) on an irrigation pump.
  • Install electronic expansion valves.
  • Install thermal insulation on compressor suction lines.
  • Investigate underperformance of the solar PV system.

Of the energy-saving opportunities evaluated, two initiatives were identified with payback periods under 4 years which are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1. Energy savings identified from audit recommendations 

Recommendation  Energy savings (kWh)  Cost Savings ($)  Emission Savings (tCO2-e)  Payback Period (Years)  Cost to Implement ($) 
Variable Speed Drive on 2 compressors 13,400 3,314 4.5 2.4 7,885
Lighting system upgrade 5,051 1,249 2.9 3.3 4,126
Total  18,450 4,563 7.4 2.6 12,011

The energy audit also recommended a network tariff review to realise potential savings of $3,940 per annum.

By installing all the recommendations in the audit, the business could reduce energy consumption by 17%, and costs by 14%, with carbon emission savings of 7.4 tCO2e per year. 

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

Audit Metric  Pre-Audit  Post-Audit  Reduction (%)
Energy Consumption (kWh)  110,219 91,769  17
Energy Costs ($)  31,948 27,385  14
Emission (tCO2-e)  89 81.6  8


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.