04 Aug Battery powered milk delivers positive returns for family farm
Client: Nikep Dairy Farm
Location: Simpson, Victoria
Installer: Farming the Sky (Commpower Industrial)
Solar system size: 250kW rooftop solar system
Battery: 520kWh Renaissance superRack™
“It became quite clear that we would forever be at the mercy of rising electricity costs that would impact on our profitability if we didn’t make the transition to clean energy.” – John Pekin, Owner of Nikep Dairy Farm
Fourth-generation dairy farmers, John and Rochelle Pekin and owners of the Nikep Dairy Farm have closely watched the price of grid electricity and the impact it has had on the profitability of their dairy operations over the years.
With a dairy farm located at the end of a substation, the farm had an unreliable grid electricity supply that required them to have a backup diesel generator to power its operations, especially in the afternoons as high-power demands from around the farm’s location meant it was most vulnerable to brown outs.
A herd of 950 cows that needed to be milked twice a day, coupled with the cost of relying on grid electricity and diesel to power the milking, cooling and the management of its dairy effluent systems added financial pressure to Nikep’s operations.
Dairy farms like Nikep across Australia are in regions that tend to have poor electricity infrastructure. Achieving energy security and a stable supply of grid electricity is crucial to keep their business running.
Going beyond operational concerns, John Pekin has always been an advocate for solar energy and he believes that clean energy goes beyond economic considerations for many dairy farmers who want to deliver a more economically and environmentally sustainable milk supply with a lower carbon footprint.
John had done background research on the cost to install rooftop solar and batteries for his farm but felt underwhelmed by the quality of the quotes he had received from different installers – until he found Commpower Industrial (Farming the Sky).
John said, “The quote I received stood out to me because it was data driven and it clearly outlined the cost and return on investment if I had solar and storage versus relying wholly on grid electricity and diesel generators. It became quite clear that we would forever be at the mercy of rising electricity costs that would impact on our profitability if we didn’t make the transition to clean energy.”
Commpower Industrial (Farming the Sky) introduced John and Rochelle Pekin to the Victorian Government Business Recovery Energy Efficiency Fund and the Agriculture Victoria Agriculture Energy Investment Plan that they utilised for businesses to implement energy efficiency programs. Through a combination of direct funding and co-funding, the Nikep Dairy Farm started its journey towards energy independence.
John and Rochelle Pekin had a 250kW rooftop solar system and a 520kWh Renaissance superRack™ from Australian battery manufacturer Energy Renaissance installed on their farm. The new solar and storage system provides for 95 percent of the farm’s energy requirements and only five percent comes from grid electricity on days where there is insufficient solar generation. Nikep Dairy Farm’s energy and fuel bills will decrease by $70,000 annually, injecting further economic sustainability to its operations.
John added, “Investing in clean energy goes beyond economic considerations for us as dairy farmers. We want to inspire others to do something now because we’re making our farm more sustainable, which is better for the environment.
Being an Australian dairy farmer, we want to support a local battery manufacturer like Energy Renaissance. It’s important for us to support local manufacturing as it creates jobs, and it is great for our economy – just like what we’re doing here for the Aussie dairy industry. If the day comes when we need support for our batteries, I feel reassured that we’re in the same country as Energy Renaissance and we’ll get the help that we need.”
To date, the battery system has enabled the Nikep Dairy Farm to be powered almost entirely by renewables. It received the Natural Resource and Sustainability Management Award from the Dairy Australia Great Southwest Dairy Awards in 2022.