NSW Farmers says the federal government’s $50 million investment in microgrid technology will boost on-farm renewable efforts.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced the launch of the $50 million Regional Australia Microgrid Pilots Program (RAMPP) on Friday, which aims to improve the resilience and reliability of electricity supply in regional communities.
NSW Farmers Business, Economics and Trade Committee Chair Bill McDonnell said it was a welcome move as it would give individual farmers the ability to set up local generation for local use.
“The micro-grid strategy certainly fits with NSW Farmers’ stance on increasing electricity reliability and potentially affordability,” Mr McDonnell said.
“We want farmers to be able to develop generating capacity for farm activity and provide support to local communities after natural disaster impacts and destruction of network infrastructure.
“This could give farmers more freedom of choice on renewable energy and provide another way for us to support our local communities.”
While thousands of hectares of rural land already being used for the construction of renewable energy installations on the fringes of major regional towns and cities, microgrid investment could not only meet supply but also stem the loss of a huge amount of productive land.
“We’ve always said we support the right development in the right place, and we strongly believe that prime farmland – a finite resource – must be valued and protected,” Mr McDonnell said.
“Some of those large-scale solar installations mean we lose productive farmland, whereas microgrids mean farmers can pick and choose where to place the equipment on their property.
“This is all about common sense and freedom of choice, and this announcement fits the bill on both accounts.”