Farmers may benefit from more secure, affordable and reliable energy after a group of agriculture and energy organisations were successful in securing $654,807 to assess the advantages of microgrids through the Federal Government’s Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund.
The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) will partner with industry member Cotton Australia, ReAqua and Constructive Energy to deliver the project which will consider whether microgrids can offer benefits to agricultural electricity consumers as well as networks.
QFF CEO Dr Georgina Davis said unsustainable electricity costs were eroding the viability and productivity of many agriculture businesses and alternative solutions were needed so Queensland farmers could continue to competitively produce world class food, fibre and foliage.
“Microgrids offer an exciting new model for farms to buy and sell power with this Project analysing four demonstration virtual microgrids in New South Wales and Queensland, to test their suitability in different circumstances. In addition, it will include community consultation and workshops, data collection and modelling to understand costs and benefits and provide guidance to industry and government,” Dr Davis said.
Cotton Australia Policy Officer Jennifer Brown said one in four growers were currently using solar on farm and previous research has showed, they want to be part of the energy solution.
“This project will help our members understand where microgrids work best, such as at the fringe of the grid,” Ms Brown said.
Managing Director of ReAqua, Ben Lee said the funding was great news for the industry and created an opportunity to build practical knowledge for challenges facing the agriculture sector in transitioning to clean energy solutions.
“Increasingly when talking to farmers, we have seen the need to understand alternative ways energy can be shared, stored and distributed so that low carbon energy benefits not only irrigators, but also their neighbours and local communities,” Mr Lee said.
Managing Director of Constructive Energy Ashley Bland said these projects were critical to the future of regional Australia.
“As we transition from centralised old-style generation to a diverse and decentralised grid, it is vital to understand how new models can be applied to benefit regional industry and communities,” Mr Bland said.