This is the final project report presenting the outcomes of the three year field trial to demonstrate the economic benefits of using renewable energy (specifically solar) to power irrigated sugarcane production.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is gratefully acknowledged for their funding support of the trial project titled ‘Adapting Renewable Energy Concepts to Irrigated Sugar Cane Production at Bundaberg’.
The water energy nexus has created a dilemma for many irrigators since the establishment of the National Electricity Market (NEM) and significant increases in the cost of grid supplied electricity.
The Bundaberg Irrigators Group (BRIG) posed the following hypothesis. For farming situations where replacement of travelling gun systems with low pressure overhead applicators is not feasible due to farm layout and topographical or water supply constraints:
- Could a HES be developed and proven to deliver similar combined effect of cost reduction and greater operational freedom without the constraints of tariff cost and time of use restrictions? and
- Could this system improve yield potential?
A trial to test the energy savings potential of solar-grid Hybrid Energy System (HES) with travelling gun irrigation was proposed and undertaken by the BRIG and their farming enterprise member, Killer Family Holdings, at their farm on Manoo Road, Sharon, 14 kilometres west of Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia.
BRIG represents irrigators in the Bundaberg district across a range of commodity groups, with sugarcane being the predominant crop.
Renewable and Hybrid Energy systems (HES’s) present a promising alternative energy opportunity for many producers. However HES’s present two critical issues for growers; whether such a system is capable of maintaining the peak irrigation requirement for the daily energy demands of sugarcane production; and whether solar powered hybrid energy systems could change irrigation management practices leading to increased farm productivity.