Energy Savers
Southern Downs

Stanthorpe Stonefruit Farm

Energy Savings
Southern Downs
Lighting, Solar hot water, Tariffs

Farm Profile

The Stanthope farm produces an average of 300 tonnes of stonefruit per year from 40ha. Water is supplied from on-site irrigation dams and are replenished from rainfall.

The site consumes approximately 20,000 kWh annually at a cost of around $6,500 which is low as they already have a 10kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed. Their current energy benchmarking is approximately 67kWh per tonne of fruit produced.

The site energy consumption consists of:

  • A packing shed with various items of machinery that process the fruit with a 5kW solar system
  • A cold room in the packing shed used 2-3 months of the year during harvesting
  • Workers accommodation with a 5kW solar system
  • A number of diesel pumps for irrigation and water transfer

An audit of site energy consumption evaluated:

  • Tariff analysis
  • Retrofit of lighting in packing shed and workers accommodation
  • Replacement of hot water system in workers accommodation
  • The effectiveness of the existing solar PV system

Of the energy saving opportunities evaluated, two initiatives were identified with potential energy savings of 10 per cent of the site total and a combined payback period of 10 years.

A tariff analysis was completed on the sites tariffs and it was found that the solar feed in tariff had been changed by the retailer from $0.51/kWh to $0.08/kWh before the contract was expired due to a new meter being installed. The grower went to the retailer to have the feed in tariff changed.

The audit recommended upgrading the lighting in the packing shed and the workers accommodation. The current lighting system consists of 400W high bay Mercury Vapour luminaries in the packing shed and 40 36W twin T8 fluorescent fittings in the packing shed and the accommodation. The high bay fittings were recommended to be replaced with 200W LED lights which will reduce the lighting electricity usage by up to 50 per cent.

The audit recommended replacing the 36 watt fluorescent tubes with 18 watt LED tubes within the existing light fitting. These can use 40 per cent less electricity than the existing fluorescent tubes. Maintenance costs will also be reduced as the LED tubes have a longer lifespan. It was suggested to replace half of the double fittings with LED panels that use 32W.

Another recommendation included upgrading the hot water system in one of the workers accommodation buildings to a solar thermal system. An evacuated tube system was suggested due to their ability to heat to higher temperatures. A holding tank would also be required.

Following the audit report recommendations, the grower decided not to proceed with any recommendations due to the ongoing drought, but will consider completing the upgrades in the future. Post implementation benchmarking is predicted at 57kWh/T of fruit produced, a reduction of 14 per cent with a reduction in Carbon Emissions of nearly 5.4 tCO2-e per year.

The auditor also identified the opportunity to increase the size of each of the Solar PV systems to increase the on-site generation which reduce the amount of grid electricity supplied and increase the Feed-in-Tariff revenue.

The energy audit recommendations are summarised below:

Solution Lighting Retrofit Replacement of hot water system Solar PV Upgrade
Est. Cost to implement $1,950 $5,000 $2,000
Est. Energy Savings 935 kWh/p.a. 1,949 kWh/p.a. 2,910 kWh/p.a.
Est. Operating cost saving $327 p.a. $344 p.a. $1,504
Payback Period 6 years 14.5 years 1.4 years


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.

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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.