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Completed project

On-farm power generation - options for vegetable growers (VG13051)

Key research provider: Applied Horticultural Research
Publication date: Tuesday, February 5, 2019

What was it all about?

With the price of electricity rising, vegetable producers face growing costs across the production space, including from irrigation, heating and cooling processes to powering processing and packing plants. At the same time, some renewable energy sources are becoming significantly cheaper to install, which, together with incentive schemes on offer, have made them more appealing.

This project, which was carried out in 2014, investigated the feasibility of various on-farm power generation options to help growers make an informed decision about the economic, technical and operational costs and benefits of different technologies. It produced fact sheets describing key options and considerations (see the ‘act now’ section for these).

The project began with a review of possible options for generating electricity including solar photovoltaics, wind power, natural gas generation, LPG generation, woody biomass power generation and, where relevant, battery storage to support intermittent power generation options. (Meanwhile, biogas generation was the subject of its own project, through VG13049).

The research team developed six detailed case studies of the different methods in order to analyse the specific costs and benefits, and went on to report on the return on investment and any practical implementation considerations such as incentive schemes and regulatory requirements.

A considerable amount of data was generated by the team in the process of narrowing down options to the four most promising power generation technologies:

  • Solar photovoltaics
  • Wind turbines
  • Natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) generation with a reciprocating engine, potentially with cogeneration or trigeneration
  • Woody biomass power generation.

All of these technologies are established and deployed around the world. With the exception of trigeneration and biomass generation, these technologies are already being used in the horticulture or related sectors in other countries.

The researchers encourage growers interested in on-farm power to seek the assistance of an appropriate energy consultant to establish costs and benefits for their enterprise.


Four fact sheets on the major considerations for on-farm power generation can be found below:

Related levy funds


Funding statement:
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited . The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).