Australia’s biggest solar diesel pump for irrigation up and running

Very good work if you can get it – Farmer Jon Elder inspects his 500kW solar pumping system – the largest of its type in Australia and is expected to lead the way for more growers to adapt large-scale solar installations to earn LRET generated income and for pumping precious groundwater on the farm

You are looking at the biggest solar/diesel pumping system ever put into operation in Australia and it’s also a fully accredited power station on a family farm

It’s all about improving farm viability by lowering energy costs as science merges with agriculture to make affordable cleaner and greener electricity.

The home to Australia’s newest renewable energy power station, and biggest solar pumping system is a cotton farm near Narromine in Central NSW.

The 500kW solar pumping system at the farm was installed by Australian company ReAqua, and it comprises a staggering 1,500 solar panels arranged over an area of one hectare (2.47-acres).

The system is classified as an accredited power station under the Federal Government’s Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET), administered by the Clean Energy Regulator. And this where the “big bickies” are expected to roll in.

Under the LRET scheme, the farm earns Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) for power it generates. These are estimated as high as $120,000 over the next five years.

The system is expected to reduce diesel consumption previously used for irrigating the farm by about 50 per cent each year and reduce 500 tonnes of carbon entering the atmosphere annually.

The solar pumping system at Waverleigh was partially funded by a loan from the NSW Rural Assistance Authority’s Farm Innovation Fund. It will also host a solar forecasting technology trial by CSIRO.

The cotton farmer behind this giant investment is Jon Elder. And Jon went on to say, “We expect the system will pay for itself in 5 years based on diesel savings alone. With the sale of LGC’s further contributing to our bottom line.”

“Our winter crops, mostly wheat, are not irrigated so they are impacted by drought conditions. Integrating solar power reduces our on-going operating costs, setting us up for challenging years ahead.”

“Diesel is the highest cost on our farm, and has been a real constraint on growth, and a factor in our vulnerability to drought. The partial switch to solar powered pumping is a game-changer for us.”

The company that installed the system was ReAqua, Managing Director Ben Lee had this to say, “Solar pumping systems are still a new technology in Australian agriculture, so the potential upside is huge.

“Early adopters have found it to be a critical factor in building drought resilience and overall farm viability. We’ve seen significant growth in numbers of enquiries from farmers wanting to reduce their energy costs.”

Jon Elder’s farm

  • Located 35 kilometres south-west of Narromine, Central NSW.
  • Grows 550+ hectares of cotton annually, irrigated with groundwater allocated under a Water Access Licence issued by WaterNSW.
  • Grows 1,000 hectares of wheat and other grains as winter crops on un-irrigated land. Which failed this year due to the drought.
  • Consumed about 350,000 litres of diesel each year to fuel water pumps, prior to incorporation of solar power.

ReAqua – call on tel: 1300 552 040, or email

  • Wholly-owned Australian company.
  • Provides solar pumping solutions throughout Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
  • Specialises in agricultural, commercial and industrial solar pumping systems via a dealer network of over 200 accredited local dealers.

Large-scale Renewable Energy Target – see:

  • The Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) incentivises the development of renewable energy power stations in Australia through a regulated market for the creation and sale of large-scale generation certificates (LGCs).
  • Power stations accredited in the LRET are able to create LGCs for electricity generated from that power station’s renewable energy sources. LGCs can then be sold to entities with liabilities under the LRET (mainly electricity retailers) to meet their compliance obligations.
  • Liable entities are required to buy LGCs from the market and surrender these certificates to the Clean Energy Regulator on an annual basis. The number of LGCs required to be submitted by liable entities is set each year through the renewable power percentage .
  • LGCs can also be sold to companies and individuals looking to voluntarily offset their energy use and emissions.
  • The accreditation of power stations and creation of LGCs continues under the LRET until 2030.

Farm Innovation Fund – See

  • A package to assist primary producers identify and address risks to their farming enterprise, improve permanent farm infrastructure and ensure long-term productivity and sustainable land use, aiding in meeting changes to seasonal conditions.