Farm Manager, Nick Ruddenklau, joined Epasco Farms at a milestone in the business’ history.

The large scale 11,500 hectare cropping and livestock agri-business east of Esperance, Western Australia, had just transitioned some of its power supply to stand-alone power systems (SAPS), facilitating the permanent removal of kilometres of poles and wires from its paddocks.

Three SAPS totalling 32.4 kilowatts of solar capacity were deployed across Epasco Farms’ operations in late 2019. This was part of an infrastructure upgrade by its power utility, Horizon Power, which saw a total of 17 SAPS deployed across customer properties.

SAPS incorporate the latest in solar and battery technology to generate renewable energy and have enabled a number of Epasco Farms’ staff houses and operations to transition to more reliable, off-grid power.

Nick Ruddenklau said the business had experienced a number of benefits resulting from the removal of power poles from its paddocks.

“Being a large farming operation, we rely on itinerant workers during peak times to drive farm machinery in the paddocks, both day and night,” Nick said.

“Many are unskilled workers and the risk of machinery colliding with power poles is higher.”

“The impacts can be considerable; loss of productivity, damage to machinery and poles, not to mention the inevitable loss of power.”

Another significant, though less recognised benefit of SAPS to agri-businesses has been the removal of bio-security risks associated with the power utility needing to inspect and maintain poles and wires in paddocks.

“Vehicle tyres can carry hazardous weeds, seeds and diseases,” Nick said.

“Thanks to the SAPS, Horizon Power no longer needs to drive through our paddocks to inspect their infrastructure, which is helping to protect the integrity of our land and crops.”

As an alternative to poles and wires, SAPS are proving to be more cost effective for Horizon Power by lowering its cost to serve.  At the same time, customers, particularly those located along lengthy distribution spur lines, are enjoying significant improvements in power reliability and quality.

“We have not had any major power outages since the SAPS were deployed,” Nick said.

“This has meant that during peak periods, such as the shearing season, we can run the shed at full capacity without worrying about the power going out.”

“We are excited by how much renewables technology is evolving and helping to drive the global shift towards industries integrating greater amounts of renewables into their businesses.”

Nick Ruddenklau, Farm Manager – Epasco Farms, Western Australia

Epasco Farms is currently exploring the opportunity to transition other sections of the business’ operations over to SAPS.

“Epasco Farms’ owners are proactive in looking for opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint across their business interests, whether that be improvements in practices or embracing new technologies,” Nick said.

“SAPS is a great example of how it has been possible for us to achieve this, while at the same time benefiting from a number of operational efficiencies.”