Making milk goes off-grid with battery power

Nikep Dairy Farm owners John and Rochelle Pekin with their cows (battery)
Nikep Dairy Farm owners John and Rochelle Pekin

A commercial dairy in Simpson, Victoria, has selected lithium battery pioneer Energy Renaissance to power its 450-hectare property.

Agribusiness solar and storage integrator, Farming the Sky installed the Energy Renaissance batteries with a 250kW rooftop solar system to store any excess energy generated. The new solar and battery system will reduce the Nikep Dairy Farm’s reliance on grid electricity by up to 95 per cent, and it is expected to decrease their energy and fuel bills by $70,000 annually.

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Running 950 head of cows, the farm had relied on unreliable grid electricity and diesel to power its operations for milking and cooling milk, and effluent management, before it had solar and storage. However, the battery system has enabled the Nikep Dairy Farm, owned by fourth-generation dairy farmers John and Rochelle Pekin, to be powered almost entirely by renewables. As a result, the dairy farm received the Natural Resource and Sustainability Management Award from the Dairy Australia Great Southwest Dairy Awards.

The Pekins said, “Dairy farming is highly energy-intensive and relying on grid electricity meant we were at the mercy of rising electricity costs that would impact our profitability. Having batteries also provide us with energy security, knowing that we can continue to operate in the event of a grid outage.

“In addition, the batteries can keep our cows being milked twice daily. 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.”

The Nikep Dairy Farm is now tracking towards becoming carbon-neutral, unlocking new opportunities by selling carbon credits generated by the Farming the Sky solutions, and milk to processors who reward low carbon producers with better prices.

Farming the Sky general manager Nick d’Avoine said, “The Victorian Government is leading the way with the On-Farm Action Plan program that grants farmers to invest in technologies to reduce their carbon emissions, including renewable energy. This will allow dairy farmers like Nikep’s to deliver a more economically and environmentally sustainable milk supply with a reduced carbon footprint.”

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Energy Renaissance founder Brian Craighead “We are delighted that Nikep Dairy Farm has chosen to install our Australian superRack batteries. Working with CSIRO, we spent years perfecting our batteries for challenging environments like this, and it’s fantastic to see all that effort translate into lower costs, lower emissions and a more sustainable operation.”

The Nikep Dairy Farm project was supported by the Victorian Government through the Business Recovery Energy Efficiency Fund and co-funded by the Agriculture Victoria Agriculture Energy Investment Plan.