National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) has welcomed the federal government’s $1.9 billion investment in new and emerging technologies focused on jobs, energy reliability and supporting industry capability to be part of Australia’s effort in reducing emissions.  

NIC CEO Steve Whan said “We see the $1.62 billion injection of funding to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) as a great opportunity to strengthen the capability of these bodies in their investment focus on technologies designed to support irrigated agriculture businesses in their energy and production solutions.  

“Farmers have been enthusiastic, early adopters, of renewables. They are now looking to new generation and energy storage solutions including hydrogen, batteries, ‘waste’ use and greater ability to utilise microgrids. The competitive price of solar and wind now means most farmers don’t need Government grants for these, but they do need help with other technologies and storage until they become commercially viable.

“NIC strongly supports the development of ARENA’s Bioenergy Roadmap which recognises the way Australian farmers and agriculture industries are embracing technology to enhance production and operational efficiencies, and the sector’s increased adoption of renewable energy solutions to manage the cost of electricity, to off-set unavoidable peak demand charges and work to decarbonise the ‘energy mix’. 

“The Bioenergy Roadmap must outline a consistent approach to removing barriers to participation in bioenergy and other renewables. This includes policy and regulatory harmonisation around managing energy from waste by relevant government authorities, network charges and/or regulation that: makes export of electricity generated on-farm prohibitive; makes virtual or micro grids impractical, and reduces regulatory barriers for the potential use of feed stocks.

“It is important that Australian agriculture plays a central role in the momentum around the emerging opportunities during this period of transition of the energy market and the technical innovations as well as the policy and regulatory changes enabling these opportunities.

“The rapid adoption of renewable technologies has created an increasingly dynamic system, and we have consistently highlighted the barriers for agriculture industries, who have been challenged to operate in a competitive market in providing food and fibre for Australia and for export.

“NIC’s 2019 federal election platform highlighted the need for a water and energy productivity program – focused on support for energy solutions in irrigated agriculture including smart water efficient practices, renewables, storage and hybrid systems, and highlighted eligible technologies including solar generation and battery storage (where applicable), the suite of digital and engineering technologies required to optimise energy efficiency and demand management on farm and smart grid connection solutions.

“We welcome the Government’s enthusiastic commitment to facilitating agriculture in helping to meet Australia’s emissions goals and in remaining an internationally competitive producer of food and fibre.”

Media Contact:  Steve Whan 0429 780 883

17 September 2020