A cotton farm in NSW will use an off-grid, hybrid solar plant to power the irrigation of its crops, after it switched on the new system on Tuesday.
The cotton farm in Moree – which is also the host to one of Australia’s biggest solar projects, the under-construction 56MW Moree Solar Farm – has added a 70kW ground-mounted solar array with back-up battery storage to its diesel engine direct drive pump, with the aim of cutting its diesel consumption by 60 per cent.
The hybrid system, designed and installed by YellowDot Energy, uses variable frequency drive (VFD) technology to combines the electricity from the diesel generator and the solar PV.
This allows 24/7 operation of the irrigation bore pump, with the ability to pump high daily volumes using less than half the amount of diesel fuel.
According to YellowDot, the farm’s first-of-its kind power plant is designed around a proprietary electronic control system that includes a range of sensors and remote telematics.
This allows the farmer to choose to operate seasonally between hybrid and a solar-only mode and can monitor and control the system remotely via an internet connection.
“Lower diesel consumption means a lower extraction cost per ML of water,” said YellowDot chief engineer, Rob Mailler. “This lower cost allows an irrigator to expand their planting choices to crops that would not have been economically viable with diesel only pumping.”
Clark said the option to add in large battery storage for this application was there, but the economics didn’t justify it right now.
The plant’s technical specifications are as follows:
- 70kWp ground mounted solar PV
- Tigo DC optimisers
- 45 kW 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