Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Sun sense for Kyabram dairy farmers

A pilot workshop has helped dairy farmers and service providers make sense of the solar industry.

December 12, 2012 4:46am

Workshop participants (from left) Ray Warren (M&S Accouting), Troy Mauger (Murray Dairy), Andrew Murphy (dairy farmer), Brett Cox (electrician), Brett and Kylie Dixon (dairy farmers), James Walsh (Fonterra), Steve Hawken (dairy farmer), Doug Small (SKY project officer), Gail Hemphill (dairy farmer), Cathy Pell (dairy farmer) and Geoff Lodge (GV Community Energy).

Rising electricity costs motivated local dairy farmers to team up with Sustainable Kyabram (SKY) group to explore options for solar power.

SKY facilitated a pilot workshop with dairy farmers and service providers to help make sense of the solar industry following reduced incentives by state and federal governments.

‘‘Dairy farmers look for reliable and trustworthy information and SKY’s independence and experience with solar make us an ideal partner to help them make sound business decisions about solar,” said SKY project officer Lisa Booth.

SKY organised and facilitated a renewable milk workshop on the feasibility of using solar to help dairy farmers offset rising energy costs.

Not for profit group GV Community Energy was engaged to undertake preliminary modeling for two dairy farms.

Geoff Lodge from GVCE emphasized to the workshop the importance of matching solar panels to electricity consumption of the dairy.

‘‘Any excess electricity generated beyond consumption is fed back into the grid for a return less than the cost of its production,” according to Mr Lodge.

The workshop highlighted that investment in solar changed dramatically recently when the Victorian Government reduced the feed in tariff from 25 cents to 8 cents.

The workshop showed that it now makes no sense to install solar systems with capacity to generate electricity beyond that being used in the dairy.

However, SKY reports that early findings show that solar can be a sound investment on dairy farms as long as most of solar generated electricity is consumed on site.

“With a business model the project can help all dairy farmers across our region make better choices around solar energy,” said Ms Booth. Similar modeling can be applied to all commercial businesses.

If Kyabram and district businesses are interested in obtaining independent advice regarding energy and the installation of solar they are welcome to contact SKY project officers Ms Booth or Doug Small.

Mr Small said the findings of the workshop also apply to households. He cautioned anyone considering investing in solar to be wary about recommendations for system sizes that are not matched with electricity consumption.

“SKY’s ultimate goal is to see renewable power generated in Kyabram and we are happy to provide guidance to all community members in their quest to reduce their energy usage,” Ms Booth Lisa.

Ms Booth can be phoned on 0407567696 and Mr Small on 0412375380.

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