Energy Savers
Wide Bay Burnett

Sunshine Coast Nursery

Energy Savings
Nursery and Garden
Air conditioning, Solar Photovoltaic, Lighting, Demand management
Capital Cost

Farm Profile

A large Sunshine Coast nursery has the potential to reduce energy consumption and costs from findings in a recent energy audit. The site has increased production using a newly constructed tissue propagation lab aimed at meeting demand from commercial avocado plantations.

The nursery located on the Sunshine Coast consumes 328,895 kWh costing $63,314 to produce around 322,840 plants per annum on a 20.5ha site. The growing areas are a mixture of outdoor (2.9 ha), shade-houses (2.6 ha), polytunnels (0.06 ha), climate-controlled greenhouses (0.35 ha), and several dark rooms for clonal avocado rootstock production. The tissue culture and greenhouses consume 120,935kWh at a cost of $28,421.

The audit found the farm could reduce energy consumption across the whole site by.

  • Load shifting at no cost
  • Replacing fluorescent lighting with new LEDs
  • Installation of a new split system air conditioner
  • Installation of a 78-kW solar PV system for the tissue culture facility
  • Installation of two 30-kW solar PV system
Recommendation Energy Savings (kWh) Cost Savings ($) Payback Period (Years) Capital Cost ($)
Load Shifting (demand savings) 17.5kW 350 Immediate N/A
New LED lighting 1,982 726 1.2 1,323
Replace air conditioner 4,569 1,076 1.8 1,895
Install a 78kW solar PV 65,547 13,553 7.2 97,500
Two 30kW solar PV systems (Combined) 93,714 19,160 3.65 (averaged) 64,660
Total 165,812 34,865 4.7 165,378


Implementing options one to four has the potential to reduce energy consumption by 72,098 kWh and $15,355 per year, for the tissue lab and greenhouse area.

While installing two 30-kW solar PV systems on the separate NMIs could reduce energy and costs by 93,714 kWh and $19,160 per year.

Overall a 50% reduction in electricity consumption across the whole site could be achieved with savings of 162,812 kWh, $34,515 and 134.3 tCO2-e per year. This would be subject to allowable export when connected to the grid, highlighting the importance of good design and expert advice.

The grow rooms were constructed to allow increased production at the nursery. While this has occurred, energy use has also increased to 143,326 kWh per year. The increased use may lead to the nursery becoming a large user at another meter, resulting in demand charges on two meters and increased costs. Further, it is expected that energy consumption will increase a further 22 per cent at the tissue culture lab as the nursery continues to ramp up production.

Pre-Audit (kWh) Post-Audit (kWh) Pre-Audit Cost ($) Post Audit Cost ($)
Whole Site (Three meters) 328,895 166,083 63,314 44,154
Tissue Lab and Grow Houses (included in the above) 120,935 48,837 28,421 13,066
With an expected 22% increase in production 59,581


The audit has considered the increase in production and expected energy consumption. With the installation of recommendations in the audit the Tissue Lab and Grow Houses can cut costs and keep below 100,000kWh now and into the future.

If all audit recommendations are implemented new benchmarks will be achieved and a reduction in kWh and cost per unit produced will be realised.

Pre and Post Audit Benchmarks

Pre-Audit 328,895kWh Post-Audit 166,083kWh Percentage Reduction (%)
Plants Produced 322,840
kWh per unit produced 1.03 .51 50.49
kWh cost per unit 0.21 0.14 33.33


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.