Solar on the farm? Maybe.

It costs between $4000 and $5000 per quarter in power bills just to run the dairy, so we jumped at the chance to have an energy audit done on the farm by Gabriel Hakim, thanks to GippsDairy.

Energy Audit with Gab

Gabriel and Wayne check out the systems

It showed us where our energy is used and highlighted that maybe we had better look at increasing the flow of water to our milk heat exchanger. Still, there were no massive savings to be made (and don’t we all love a silver bullet?), so I’ve started investigating alternative power for the dairy.

A wind turbine would have a payback period of 60 years! Jeepers! So, I’ve since been looking at solar. You can now lease solar systems with the repayments matched to your electricity savings, making the exercise cashflow neutral. Very nice! The only thing now is to get the right size system.

It’s not as easy as you think because the cows are generally milked too early and too late in the day to capitalise on solar energy, so I think we’ll be starting off small. That’s not so bad because it won’t lock us in to the technology forever and I am sure something even better is on its way!

4 thoughts on “Solar on the farm? Maybe.

  1. Oh the great dilemma…. and as anything to do with batteries just sucks at the moment.

    Also if you go solar you will be on the grid and if the power goes out you still wont actual have any power. So not going to help with the black outs side of things.

    I have someone that you can talk to that is a lot more ‘in’ with this stuff and works for power company.

    Last night on ‘Dirty Jobs’ they had a guy heating the house and farm with methane and making pots out of the manure!!

    I could really see you guys doing that on the farm 🙂


  2. In some of the the bigger farms in the US, methane digestors are being used to generate electricity but I dont know what size operation you need to make it cost effective. However, whatever you can do to reduce methane emissions is a good thing as it helps reduce GHG emissions (given how potent a GHG methane is). Beyond large scale energy production there are smaller targeted uses that are possible – hot water boilers, gas-powered generators, etc. (nitrous oxide is an even bigger issue in manure but I am unsure what can be done to control it)

    The battery techology for solar standalone systems continues to improve but it is still quite expensive if you already have power infrastructure in place. Also it is now possible to instal simple off the shelf switching systems that allow your on-grid solar power system to seemlessly switch to battery backup if required (ie the power doesnt have to go off if the grid shuts down).


  3. Pingback: For our children | The Milk Maid Marian

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