Renewable energy helps reduce cotton farm diesel consumption

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A recently installed off-grid solar-diesel hybrid power plant for irrigation purposes on a cotton farm in Moree, New South Wales is expected to reduce the farm’s diesel consumption by up to 60 per cent.

Renewable energy helps reduce cotton farm diesel consumption
The new power plant commissioned by YellowDot Energy for a cotton farm in Moree, New South Wales uses a combination of solar and diesel power to operate the irrigation bore pump.

The power plant was designed and built by power systems specialist YellowDot Energy.

The company says the power plant will enable the cotton grower to pump up to 4ML (mega litres) of water per day and 890ML per year.

To build the power plant, YellowDot Energy used a variable frequency drive (VFD) technology which combines electricity from a diesel generator and solar PV.

Compared to the cotton farm’s previous use of a diesel engine direct drive pump to operate the irrigation bore pump, the hybrid solar-diesel plant is expected to use 60 per cent less diesel.

According to YellowDot Energy chief engineer Rob Mailler, that means lower production costs.

"Lower diesel consumption means a lower extraction cost per ML of water," he says.

"This lower cost allows an irrigator to expand their planting choices to crops that would not have been economically viable with diesel only pumping."

The Moree power plant is designed around a proprietary electronic control system that includes a range of sensors, remote telematics and back up battery power.

The grower can choose to operate seasonally between hybrid and a solar-only mode and can monitor and control the system remotely via the Internet.

Some of the power plant’s technical specifications include:

  • 70kWp ground mounted solar PV
  • Tigo DC optimisers
  • 45kW ABB Variable Frequency Drive
  • PLC control system with remote communications and control
  • Battery UPS for control and communications
  • 60kVA diesel generator with electronic controller
  • Submersible 3 phase pump manufactured and installed by Condamine Drilling

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