Australia’s largest beef cattle producer, the Australian Agricultural Company Limited (AACo), is set to install solar PV arrays across its network of cattle farming stations, in a project that is being co-financed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the National Australia Bank.
The $990,000 AACo project – the funding of which was originally developed through Low Carbon Australia, which is now integrated into the CEFC – will see PV systems installed across 15 grid-connected sites in Queensland, including at Julia Creek, Normanton, Dalby, Surat and Comet; an effort that is expected to cut the company’s grid energy consumption and carbon emissions by nearly 30 per cent, according to AACo CEO and managing director David Farley.
CEFC CEO Oliver Yates said his organisation had received a strong response from the solar sector with a range of investment opportunities focused on overcoming financial impediments for investment and new financing models for a range of solar technologies in Australia.
“The utility and commercial sector business case continues to improve as the relative cost of solar energy generation falls,” Yates said. “However, there are still impediments to business investment in solar. We can help catalyse investment and increase capital to fund the market and reduce finance costs of both shorter-term bank funding and longer-term investment.”
Ben Edney, general manager of client solutions and advisory at NAB, said the joint venture demonstrated the business benefits of commercial-scale solar investment, as well as “the additional value that can come from partnering with the CEFC.”
With over 600,000 head of cattle, 19 cattle stations, two feedlots and three farm sites across more than 7.2 million hectares of land in Queensland and the Northern Territory, ASX-listed AACo is world’s largest Wagyu beef producer, with an estimated production of more than 30,000 head per year.
Farley says the solar program is part of AACo’s plans “to implement sustainable environmental management that protects and enhances the resources that support our production systems and help us secure our long-term future.”