Improving workforce data collection to foster the growth of Australian agriculture
NATIONAL CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES / Thursday, 5 January 2023
Eight-part alternative energy series spurring Australian rural industries efforts to switch to renewables
The estimated annual cost of energy is already approximately $5.85 billion for the Australian agricultural sector, but this is set to soar as electricity prices double by 2024, according to a recent federal government forecast.
Over the next two years primary producers will be forced to make significant changes to their energy consumption practices to remain profitable and attainable for consumers. The ability of agricultural businesses to stay globally competitive will also be heavily dependent on the proportionate cost of energy.
On-farm renewable energy systems are being touted as a significant solution for farmers from a long-term cost-saving perspective, but they will also play a seismic role in our national transition towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Since 2000, energy consumption from renewable sources in Australia has increased from 270 billion joules to 420 billion joules, consumption is relatively low (at 7%) in the context of Australia’s total energy consumption (6,000 billion or 6 trillion joules).
Up until now there have been very few resources developed to identify suitable alternative energy solutions for a broad range of agri-businesses, and their return on investment.
Eight steps to an alternative future
AgriFutures Australia has recently published a series of short reports specifically for primary producers, outlining the methodology of eight ready-for-market renewable energy solutions with a step-by-step guide on how to begin the process of integration into on-farm practices.
The series is the first of its kind in Australia, with a strong focus on:
AgriFutures Australia Manager for National Rural Issues, Jane Knight said AgriFutures Australia’s research captured in the eight short reports reveals key pathways to adopting alternative energy and includes case studies sharing where it is already in use in rural industries across Australia and information on its affordability. Crucially, the research highlights the sector-wide opportunity for change.
“Australian agriculture is under growing pressure to reduce emissions across the sector. Finding innovations and new technologies that allow industry to change existing practices will be essential in decarbonising and avoiding future greenhouse gas emissions. These reports provide a strong basis to support Australian agriculture on this journey,” Ms Knight explains.
“There are already a number of innovative producers that have successfully adopted renewable alternatives, including Rosnay Organic Wines and Meredith Dairy and this work will support others to embrace alternate energy.”
On track to net-zero goal
While the AgriFutures Australia research acknowledges economies of scale within agriculture can be a constraining factor, the potential benefits are a strong motivator. Alternative energy is expected to create an average of 34,000 new jobs annually to 2035.
To reach Australia’s net zero goal by 2050, Ms Knight recognises that overcoming initial constraints in the growing alternative energy market will be key to change.
“This research paves a way for change and there is a huge opportunity for Australia to learn from international best practice in all areas of transition and become a leader in energy innovation,” Ms Knight said.
The AgriFutures National Rural Futures program invests in thought-provoking and horizon-scanning research that addresses barriers to growth and helps industry and governments respond to opportunities. All publications, reports, fact sheets, podcasts and more can be found at the AgriFutures Australia Knowledge Hub.
Most of AgriFutures Australia’s publications are available for viewing, free download or purchase online at https://agrifutures.com.au/.
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