Karin Stark lives on a cotton and wheat farm in Narromine, NSW, giving her a first-hand perspective of the inherent energy challenges faced by farmers. Energy is one of the fastest-growing costs for farmers, and Karin's focus is on helping them to significantly reduce those costs and their emissions at the same time by facilitating the adoption of on-farm renewables.
"Energy was the highest operating cost on our farm, so in 2018 we installed Australia’s largest solar diesel irrigation pump, which has saved us 45% on diesel costs and stopped 500 tonnes of emissions from entering the atmosphere each year."
Read more from our interview with Karin below.
What is Farm Renewables Consulting?
Farm Renewables Consulting is an Australian owned business, based in Central West NSW, that's working with Government, community groups, and private industry, on the premise that shared stories and lived experience is one of the best ways to create meaningful change.
Karin has a background in Environmental Management and the design, delivery, and evaluation of community-based social marketing. Being a passionate advocate in this area, she also founded and convenes the annual National Renewables in Agriculture Conference and Exhibition.
Why is Farm Renewables Consulting taking climate action?
Farmers are on the front line of climate change, with fires, floods, and drought impacting the sustainability of farm businesses. Regional Australia and the agricultural sector also have massive opportunities in the transition to decarbonise the energy sector.
Farm Renewables Consulting helps to build communities of practice, particularly through the National Renewables in Agriculture Conference and increases knowledge to enable farmers to adopt renewables and see a successful transition to a clean energy future.
How is Farm Renewables Consulting taking climate action?
The driving force behind the decision to go solar was that energy was our highest operating cost on the farm. We were spending over $300,000 each year to run groundwater irrigation bores used to water our summer crops.
The 500kW solar-diesel hybrid pump was launched in 2018 to much media and community interest. It is on target for the system to be paid back in five years.
The environmental benefits are something we're proud of, with 500 tonnes of CO2 no longer entering the atmosphere each year. It's important we continue to share our story, to give other farmers the confidence to move forward to a low carbon future.
Is there a project Farm Renewables Consulting is currently delivering that you are excited about?
The 2022 National Renewables in Agriculture Conference will be the third time the event has been held. From the inaugural event in 2019, where 250 people came together to share stories of renewables on farms, the event has since grown to 350 in 2021.
We expect the 2022 Conference to be even bigger and better and for stories of innovative farmers to continue to be highlighted through the event and in the lead-up, via media and social media.
What real-world opportunities have you uncovered by taking climate action?
The installation of our 500kW solar-diesel pump led to the convening of the National Renewables in Agriculture Conference, the only event in Australia that brings those interested in agriculture and energy together.
What action would you like to see Australia take on climate?
We'd like to see the Federal Government take action on climate change by:
- Putting a price on carbon;
- Ensuring that climate change is depoliticised;
- Supporting and incentivising renewables and storage;
- Assisting Farmers for Climate Action's Repower Plan;
- Investing in knowledge and funds for community-owned energy (Helen Haine's report); and
- Implementing stronger R&D and commercialisation of cleaner energy sources.