Milking energy savings (15/03/2010)

Original source: The Land

Milk producers across the north of the State are making big savings, and helping combat climate change, by taking a close look at their energy requirements and implementing a range of often very simple, yet very effective, measures to cut usage.

The Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) is offering up to $5000 in 50 per cent subsidies for upgrading energy efficient equipment on farms and producers have been able to put in place measures that have reduced their energy use by up to 75pc.

Works include everything from solar pre-heating to variable speed drives on vacuum and milk pumps, replacing inefficient hot water heaters, tapping into off-peak power and replacing old plate coolers and sizing them correctly.

Already, more than 70 farms between Gloucester and the Hastings region have had energy audits conducted and consultants are now working on properties between Port Macquarie and the Queensland border.

The audits allow farms to benchmark their energy use against similar herd sizes and suggest ways producers can save energy – and dollars – and the types of projects that would attract the funding.

Dairy consultant, Nick Bullock and Associates, has been rolling out the project across the North Coast and spokesman, Chris Harding, said it was about getting farmers more focused on their energy use and the tariffs they were charged.

Funding is available to farms with an energy use of up to $20,000 for projects with a greater than two year payback period.

The offer lasts until June next year and farmers need to register with DECC to have the audit completed.

The audits have discovered things like farmers being charged full tariff for off-peak power, resulting in refunds paid; hot water for washdowns set higher than required, resulting in savings of $900 a year, and solar panel installations offering the potential to cut costs by 50pc.

“Farmers have also installed heat exchangers that use gas from chilling compressors to pre-heat water to be used for washdowns to 55 to 70 degrees Celsius,” Mr Harding said.

“And just changing to time-of-use power has saved some producers up to $1600 in one quarter.”