Australian energy gen-tailer AGL said the solar-storage microgrid will allow the managers of the Cadell Orchards almond farm near Balranald in southwest New South Wales to transfer the irrigation system from diesel-powered generators to a mix of solar PV and battery energy storage.
The system will incorporate a 4.9 MW solar farm to be built onsite, a 5.4 MWh battery system, inverter, grid stability unit, microgrid controller and communications, and an estimated 7 kilometres of new underground powerlines.
AGL, which will build, own and operate the solar-storage microgrid under a long-term power purchase agreement, said it will provide 5.2 GWh of renewable energy to the site, reducing Cadell Orchard’s reliance on existing diesel-fuelled generators and slashing the orchard’s carbon emissions by up to 4,700 tonnes a year.
David Armstrong, chief executive of Australian Farming Services which manages Cadell Orchards, said the 1,690-hectare property is not connected to the grid, instead relying on electric pumps that are currently powered by diesel generators for all irrigation needs.
“Working with AGL, we’ll be able to generate clean and renewable solar power which will cut our emissions, reduce our reliance on diesel fuel by 85% and deliver up to 40% energy cost savings each year,” he said.
“Our orchard will also benefit from energy price certainty and better energy resilience and reliability.”
AGL chief customer officer Jo Egan said the company has been working with Cadell Orchards to model energy usage and design an integrated renewable energy system to lower their energy costs and to create a more sustainable farming operation.
“This is AGL’s second major microgrid announcement this year and a great example of how AGL is partnering with agribusinesses to help them reduce their carbon emissions and lower their energy costs,” she said.
“AGL is committed to renewable energy and it’s through partnerships like this that we’re delivering on a low-carbon future with our customers and communities as we transition towards net-zero.”
Installation of the new microgrid is due to start in April 2023 and is expected to provide electricity by October 2023.