Partnership sees bright future for dairy farmers

Solar power and storage could save dairy farmers up to 30 per cent on their energy bills, according to renewables supplier Solar Bay. Photo: NICOLAS WALKER
Solar power and storage could save dairy farmers up to 30 per cent on their energy bills, according to renewables supplier Solar Bay. Photo: NICOLAS WALKER

Australia’s energy crisis is helping forge new alliances between the dairy sector and renewable energy suppliers keen to reach out to new markets.

Industry advocacy group Dairy Connect and renewables supplier Solar Bay have this week announced an alliance designed to build dairy producer solar energy technologies and funding packages.

Such bespoke systems could be tailor-made for family dairy enterprises.

Solar Bay is working with the University of Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources in undertaking R&D in generation and thermal storage solutions for dairy producers.

Solar Bay’s national business director Cameron Quin said conventional dairy farms could save up to 20-30 per cent on their existing energy bills using onsite renewable generation paired with storage technology.

“In robotic dairies, savings could be in the order of up to 50 per cent compared with today’s overhead costs,” he said.

“Depending on the investment package, all this could be without producers incurring any infrastructure cost.

“We have investment funds committed to building our presence in this important primary production market.

“As battery storage technology develops, we’re going to be in a far more favourable renewable energy environment.

“Prominent NSW dairy producers in conventional and robotic dairying are actively investigating solar solutions and we’re assisting in that journey.”

Farm gate bills in Queensland had almost doubled since 2009, Mr Quin said – four times higher than the Consumer Price Index increase during the same period.

NSW had seen a similar price rise, he said, and with energy reliability in rural areas a constant issue, farmers operating independently from the grid had become a real option.

Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan said renewables would have a critical role to play in delivering lower cost energy to the dairy industry in the future.

“Obviously, in the short term, we’re going to have to source electricity from a range of providers including renewables, coal and gas,” he said.

“But the amount of investment going into research and development and the quality of the institutions conducting that R&D, give us cause for great optimism about the pathways forward.

“At Dairy Connect, we’re seeking a clear national energy policy platform from the federal government and much more action from the State Governments in facilitating cost effective farm energy generation.”