Pilot finds 10 percent potential energy savings on dairy farms

New Zealand’s dairy farmers could shave the equivalent of the annual electricity usage of 7100 households off their power bill, a study has found.

A pilot programme commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and Fonterra has been run across 150 dairy farms in the Waikato, Lower North Island, Canterbury and Otago/Southland, which all received energy saving recommendations with paybacks of five years or less.

The pilot discovered dairy farms could achieve annual energy savings of at least 68.4 million kilowatt hours in the dairy shed, a 10 percent reduction.

Dairy farms account for 2.3 percent of New Zealand’s total energy consumption, and the average dairy farmer spends $14,000 on electricity a year.

Nearly half of dairy farmers surveyed said they would switch to energy saving milking technology, if money saved over a three year period were equivalent to the cost of the technology.

Of the farmers involved in the study, a breakdown of the average farmer's electricity use includes 24 percent on water heating, 22 percent to run water pumps, 17 percent to refrigerate milk and 15 percent on vacuum pumps.

“It’s encouraging that farmers in the pilot were quick to take up savings recommendations with 23 percent having already adopted at least one recommendation, delivering an estimated 161,000 kWh of total annual savings," said Jim Miller of Fonterra's energy efficiency team.

"With 42 percent of pilot participants reporting they would likely adopt recommendations over the next three years, savings from the audits could rise to 297,000 kWh."

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