A new solar study conducted in the heart of the Goulburn Valley, could potentially revolutionise the horticultural industry by embracing solar technologies.
In a $30 million funded experiment, the Tatura Smart Farm will use solar PV arrays to to protect pear, apple, stonefruit and almond orchards from extreme weather events and reduce orchard energy costs.
- $30 million government-backed study to examine how solar panels could be used to protect fruit orchards and reduce energy consumption within the industry.
- The Horticulture Solar Energy program will take place at Tatura Smart Farm in the Goulburn Valley.
- Want to learn more about solar? Download our FREE solar guide.
The Solar Farm Study
Tatura SmartFarm and Mildura SmartFarm are government-funded research facilities that study the impact of crop yield, product value and production efficiency using solar farms.
Funded by the Andrews Labour Government under the Agriculture Energy Investment Plan, the aim of the study is to protect the orchard from the sun while generating enough solar power to sustainably run its cool rooms.
“We pick our fruit and then we have to pull it down to zero degrees immediately,” says Matthew Rachele. “This refrigeration takes a lot of energy, it’s the most energy-intensive part of our operations.”
The study also aims to debunk the ongoing myth that solar panels create environmental heat banks by raising surrounding temperatures by 3-4 degrees Celsius.
A published report outlining these concerns appeared in the science journal Nature four years ago and has since sparked controversy among many horticultural farmers about solar PV’s impact on crops.
Farmers in the Goulburn valley also picked up this story during 2017 and expressed concern over the solar panel farms in the area acting as “heat sinks” and spoiling their crops.
Other Goulburn Valley fruit farmers, however, have completely embraced the benefits of solar from the get-go.
Central park Orchards and Mountain Valley Produce Centre, have installed two 100kw solar PV systems across the complex, cutting their grid power consumption by one-third and its annual electricity bill by $62,000 a year.
Curious About Installing Solar?
Solar isn’t just for those growing crops, the benefits of solar power can be harvested by everyone (pun intended).
If you are just starting out in your solar journey we have an excellent downloadable solar guide completely free for your perusal.
Serious about saving on your energy bills in 2020? Solar Market offers three completely free quotes from local CEC accredited solar installers so that you can kick start your renewable journey without the hassle of dodgy salesmen and companies. Happy Installing!