The Agriculture Industries Energy Taskforce, comprised of 13 farming and irrigator groups, has noted the popularity of many a solar panel installation on the Gold Coast and across the country, especially in the agriculture industry, as farmers try to fight back against the rising energy costs, which the AG Energy Taskforce notes has put the country out of competing globally.
These increased agricultural energy costs have also led to increased costs for irrigation, cooling, processing, packaging, and storage, alongside lost income and the loss of few jobs.
In response, the agriculture industry in the AU has embraced solar power, having invested $100 million on 417 on-grid and off-grid solar power projects within the past three years. This massive total is greater than any other sector in the country, while the projects being funded are bigger than average compared to other sectors.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) backs it up, noting that farmers loan more than anyone else for funding their own solar panel installation on the Gold Coast or anywhere else, with the average loan from people in the agricultural industry sitting at more than $250,000, which is close to seven times more than average. Farmers, on top of that, also took out several extra loans, amounting to $100 million, in order to improve the energy efficiency of their farms.
The AG Energy Taskforce, helmed by the National Irrigators Council, have turned to the election runners, with policy requests aimed at helping them deal with the increasing energy costs. These include, among others:
- A power price ceiling of 16 cent/kWh;
- Allowing for the sharing of local energy generation on local networks via the removal of network barriers;
- Reduce the barriers that prohibit the connection of on-farm generation to the power grid;
- An energy policy that’s economy-wide, market-based, and technology-neutral, delivering secure, affordable, and reliable energy;
- A $250 million water and energy productivity programme aimed at supporting energy solutions for the agricultural sector, including smart water efficient practices, hybrid systems, among others, and;
- Funding support for the sector, in order to help agriculture stay on par with resourced energy companies.