A Victorian dairy farming couple is leading the herd by switching to solar and battery power to reduce their energy bills and carbon footprint.

Fourth-generation landholders John and Rochelle Pekin say they have almost eliminated their dependence on unreliable grid electricity and diesel backup, and expect to shave $70,000 off annual energy and fuel costs.

“Dairy farming is highly energy-intensive and relying on grid electricity meant we were at the mercy of rising electricity costs that would impact our profitability,” the farmers said.

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“Having batteries also provides us with energy security, knowing we can continue to operate in the event of a grid outage.”

Running 950 head, the Nikep Dairy Farm owners selected Energy Renaissance’s Australian lithium battery technology to power the 450-hectare property in southwestern Simpson.

The batteries were installed with a large rooftop solar system put in by Commpower Industrial, which means excess energy generated can be stored. 

Now powered almost entirely by renewables, the farm is tracking towards carbon neutrality.

The farmers have also unlocked a new revenue stream by selling carbon credits, and sell milk to processors who reward low-carbon producers with better prices.

“Investing in clean energy goes beyond economic considerations for us as dairy farmers,” they said in a statement. 

“We want to inspire others to do something now because we’re making our farm more sustainable, which is better for the environment.”

Founder of Energy Renaissance Brian Craighead has spent years working with CSIRO to perfect the system for a range of challenging environments, from remote mining to agriculture.

“It’s fantastic to see all that effort translate into lower costs, lower emissions and a more sustainable operation,” he said.

Commpower Industrial executive Nick d’Avoine says the Victorian government is leading the way with grants that help farmers invest in clean energy technologies.

“This will allow dairy farmers like Nikep to deliver a more economically and environmentally sustainable milk supply with a reduced carbon footprint,” he said.

The Nikep Dairy Farm project was supported by the Victorian government through the Business Recovery Energy Efficiency Fund and co-funded by the Agriculture Victoria Agriculture Energy Investment Plan.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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