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CEFC and NFF back ready made clean energy solutions for Australian farmers

In an Australian first, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the National Farmers Federation (NFF) have collaborated to back ready-made clean energy solutions for Australian farmers, with the twin goals of increasing on-farm efficiency and cutting greenhouse gas GHG) emissions.

In an Australian first, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the National Farmers Federation (NFF) have collaborated to back ready-made clean energy solutions for Australian farmers, with the twin goals of increasing on-farm efficiency and cutting greenhouse gas GHG) emissions. A jointly published guide has identified 51 opportunities where farmers can reduce their energy bills by improving energy efficiency and switching to renewables (photo courtesy CEFC).

In a practical new guide for Australia’s 85 000 farming enterprises, the CEFC and the NFF have identified 51 opportunities where farmers can reduce their energy bills by improving energy efficiency and switching to renewables.

We are delighted to work with the National Farmers’ Federation in developing this important guide for Australia’s farmers, who have a well-deserved reputation for innovation and land care. The solutions can help farming businesses better manage their energy costs, increase their efficiency and lower their carbon emissions, said CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth.

The investment commitments start at under AU$10 000, making them cost-effective at a time of farm stress and drought.

Already more than 1 100 agriculture projects are drawing on AU$260 million in CEFC finance to invest in solar PV, lower emissions farm equipment, energy-efficient machinery upgrades, and biomass energy-from-waste. This guide is another exciting way we are bringing the substantial benefits of one of our newest industries, clean energy, to one of our most established, agriculture, Learmouth said.

Numerous opportunities

The guide – Transforming Australian Agriculture with Clean Energy – draws on the work of the University of Southern Queensland’s Centre for Agricultural Engineering.

Together with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, we aim to present forward-looking solutions to help Australian farmers manage rising energy costs. This guide collates information on proven and emerging technologies. It establishes how farmers can reduce their energy consumption and lower emissions, using realistic cost estimates, said NFF CEO Tony Mahar.

The potential energy efficiency technologies range from variable speed drives and smart controls to best-in-class tractors and refrigeration equipment. Renewable energy solutions include increasingly cost-effective solar PV as well as on-farm microgrids, which are particularly relevant in remote areas or where network connections are expensive.

Clean energy leads to greater efficiencies and productivity, and an overall lower emissions profile for the agribusiness sector. We believe this guide will help Australian farmers lower their energy bills, reduce their emissions footprint and ultimately, be more productive and competitive, said Mahar.

While energy consumption patterns vary across farming enterprises and production systems, the guide finds that there are significant opportunities for farm operations to immediately reduce energy consumption as well as lower energy-related emissions.

The challenge for the sector is to understand the available options, the scale of the potential investment and the potential emissions savings.

The guide sets out seven steps for farmers to embrace clean energy. Presented in an easy-to-read dashboard format, the 51 technology solutions include:

  • Simple improvements to irrigation, heating, cooling, and vehicle fuel efficiency – typically requiring an investment of AU$5 000 or less
  • New strategies to generate and store energy such as small-scale wind, solar PV and hydroelectric systems – typically requiring an investment of up to AU$25 000
  • Emerging technologies such as microgrids, biomass generation, precision application and digital sensors, robots and drones which have the potential to revolutionise farming practice.

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