Taranaki Rural Energy Project

Photos – Property of Venture Taranaki and Taranaki Catchment Community.

A pilot project in Taranaki is trailblazing initiatives to help farmers improve on-farm energy-efficiency, energy resilience and reduce on-farm emissions.

The Taranaki Rural Energy Project is a collaboration between Federated Farmers, Taranaki Catchment Communities, Taranaki Regional Council and regional development agency Venture Taranaki – working closely with farmers, energy companies, equipment suppliers, programme partners, and agencies.

AGMARDT funding has enabled the project to take its first steps, undertaking initial pilot trials in farmer education and advice for energy efficiency.

Anne Probert, Venture Taranaki GM Regional Strategy and Sectors says on-farm energy use presents an area of opportunity, and farmers are keen to be more sustainable, identify efficiencies, and advance low emission energy options.

“To be able to do this and to capture these gains, they need help to understand their on-farm energy profile and how they can improve low-emission productivity. They also need to know what the best low-emission investment options are and have confidence about making those investments.

“We’re really grateful to AGMARDT for coming on board and making it possible for our Taranaki collective to design and trial such a farmer-led rural energy advisory service”

This involved engaging two people to visit a cross-section of farms, undertake on-farm energy audits and identify some ‘quick wins’ as well as longer-term energy solutions. Outcomes were also collated for the project team along with practical feedback on the value and potential extension of such a service and how it could be used to foster sharing of rural energy information and best practice.

Learnings from this pilot are being used as a foundation for potentially establishing a farm energy adviser role, which could serve as a blueprint for similar programmes throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

Future plans could also include the possibility of farm visits, events, and information sharing on rural energy to support initiatives within the programme focus areas.

Funding from AGMARDT has enabled the project to develop a business plan and launch a centralised hub online where farmers can engage and access the programme.

Leveraging the collaborative nature of the project, core focus areas include working with partners to develop data systems that enable farmers to make the required energy-related investment decisions to support the project goals.

Another area is working to identify local resource capacities such as solar and river flows for renewable energies and the feasible technologies to support these.

The project is also supporting collaboration between energy infrastructure companies and the Taranaki rural community to increase supply resilience and support transitions to new technologies.

“Ultimately, the big focus of this project is creating a collaborative and farmer-led approach that fosters practical advice and support and closes the information gap farmers currently face in relation to the rollout of cost-effective, technically feasible, and readily available energy solutions.

“Learnings, case studies, and resources from the project will be available to all farmers in New Zealand. Over time, this will help to future-proof farms in terms of meeting their energy supply needs and also place them at the forefront concerning trialling, testing, and utilising new energy technologies and low emission options.”