AGL’s Solar-Powered Microgrid to Power Cadell Orchards Almond Farm 

AGL will partner with Cadell Orchards to build a renewable energy microgrid to power irrigation at its almond orchard farm. 

A five-hectare solar farm battery will power this microgrid. The farm will combine a 4.9 MW solar farm, a 5.4 MWh battery system, an inverter, 7km of underground power lines, a grid stability unit, and a microgrid controller and communications. AGL Energy will build the microgrid on site, which will have the capacity to supply the area with 5.2 GWh of renewable energy. Solar energy is a renewable and sustainable energy source to achieve zero carbon emissions.

The company stated that it will help Cadell Orchards reduce diesel reliance and, in turn, reduce carbon emissions by about 4,700 tonnes per year. It will also slash its yearly energy costs by up to 40 percent. 

AGL Chief Customer Officer Jo Egan said, ‘With enough renewable energy to power a small town, this new solar farm is the size of two MCGs and will help Cadell Orchards cut thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. AGL has been working with Cadell Orchards to model energy usage and design an integrated and innovative renewable energy system to lower their energy costs and meet the orchard’s future needs.’

Cadell Orchards is a 1,690ha almond orchard planted in New South Wales Riverina region during 2017/18, powered solely by electric pumps. The trees are expected to mature during the 2023/24 season. The farm is located outside of the town of Balranald, a place inconvenient to connect with the traditional grid. Due to the location, the electric pumps have been powered by diesel generators.

The CEO of Australian Farming Services, David Armstrong, had this to say. ‘We manage more than 4,400 hectares and nearly 1.5 million trees in some of Australia’s most productive horticultural regions. Working with AGL, we can generate clean and renewable solar power, which will cut our emissions, reduce our reliance on diesel fuel by 85 percent and deliver up to 40 percent energy cost savings each year. Our orchard will also benefit from energy price certainty and better energy resilience and reliability.’

The microgrid installation will begin in April 2023. It should be ready to supply electricity by October 2023.

AGL Previous Projects

AGL has been making big moves in the renewable energy industry in 2022. In March, it announced the approval of a grid-scale battery project by the NSW state government Department of Planning and Environment (DPE). The project covers building a 500MW/2,000MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) to be a large-scale renewable energy hub in New South Wales (NSW). The energy hub comprises solar, wind generation, pumped hydro energy storage (PHES), a waste-to-energy plant, and a green hydrogen pilot plant. 

‘This is AGL’s second major microgrid announcement this year and a great example of how AGL is partnering with agribusinesses to help them reduce their carbon emissions and lower their energy costs,’ Jo Egan said. 

Also, in March, Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided a $14.84 million grant for constructing a 50MW/50MWh lithium-ion battery. AGL will, through this grant, improve the reliability of the energy supply in Broken Hill.

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