Dairy sheds often use a lot of electricity – not to mention hot water. In fact, 50 per cent of their average energy bill is made up of hot water costs.

As a result, nine dairy farms located in Tasmania’s Bass Strait are installing commercial solar hot water systems in a bid to reduce their spending.

Which farms are involved?

These farms all belong to the Tasmania State Government’s Bass Strait Renewable Energy Program that has been coordinated by Dairy Australia’s Regional Development Program.

The dairy farms in question were provided with some of the 900 free energy efficiency assessments for farmers available until June this year.

The farmers were jointly given a grand total of $202,000 to install the evacuated tubes and energy-storage systems.

What systems did they choose?

The farmers chose Apricus systems that consist of 90 evacuated tubes and three 315 litre cylinders connected with even flow manifolds. A hot water pump will be used to move water from the cylinders to the manifold.

This pump is controlled by a solar control and additional roof manifolds can be added at a later date, without the need to upgrade the pump, control or cylinder.

Another advantage of this system in the cool climate of Tasmania is that the tubes are both frost and hail protected, so they can survive a cold winter undamaged.

They also come with a 10 year warranty on the cylinders and 15 years manifold array, including the tubes.

How will solar hot water systems help to keep power bills low?

Farmers in the area found it particularly difficult to keep power bills low thanks to flat-rate electricity prices and diesel power generation, according to a July 31 press release from Dairy Australia.

However, since close to half of their power came from hot water, it made sense to consider renewable sources that would reduce their bills.

In Tasmania, there is no off-peak time for power, meaning farmers are charged the same rate at night as they are during the day. The flat rate costs around 27 to 28 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the June newsletter published by Dairying For Tomorrow.

Dairy NRM Technical Specialist for Tasmania, Dr Rachel Brown said the choice to go solar was obvious in this case. However, she added it depends on the farm’s capacity to hold water in the main cylinder.

“Data from one of the units showed that for the first 24 days of use there was a 36 per cent offset of power for hot water. This will fluctuate with the seasons but I think a 50 per cent reduction over 12 months is achievable but we will analyse over the next year,” she said.

“If we can be energy efficient and use renewable energy, it saves us money, there is even less diesel coming onto the island and the environment is also better off,” King Island Dairy Farmer Supply Group leader and dairyfarmer, Troy Smith told the Australian Dairy farmer.

Are solar hot water systems better for the environment?

Solar hot water systems can be used in both farms and businesses in order to reduce power bills as they use a free resource in the sky – the sun – to heat water.

Once the cost of the system itself has been recouped, it is free to heat water.

Tasmania gets much of its energy from hydro, but some comes from gas-powered stations, which create carbon emissions that can damage the environment, said King Island Dairy Farmer Supply Group leader and dairy farmer, Troy Smith.

“If we can be energy efficient and use renewable energy, it saves us money, there is even less diesel coming onto the island and the environment is also better off,” he said.

For more information about how your business could benefit from a solar hot water system, get in touch with the team at Apricus.

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