Innovative energy efficient vehicles and equipment
Diesel represents over 80% of the energy consumed by agriculture in NSW and diesel costs are often one of a farmer's biggest operating expenses. In particular, extensive agriculture is very reliant on diesel compared to intensive sub-sectors, which tend to use more electricity for stationary applications like heating and cooling of sheds.
Developments in more energy efficient alternatives to diesel-powered vehicles and stationary equipment are rapidly advancing. For stationary equipment and smaller vehicles, the most promising pathway to replace diesel is with electric motors. Electric motors convert more than 90% of the electrical energy supplied into motion, compared to combustion engines which waste between half and two thirds of fuel energy by converting it into heat. Some alternatives to diesel-powered small vehicles and stationary equipment are already commercially available and being deployed on Australian farms. Examples include electric quad bikes and solar powered irrigation systems. Solar irrigation systems can be paired with batteries or diesel backup if continuous supply is required.
However, there is no easy replacement for diesel in heavy machinery and vehicles, with battery weight and driving range major challenges to electrification of heavy machines and vehicles. The development and commercialisation of alternative fuels such as renewable diesel, which are direct, low carbon substitutes for diesel, and hybrid electric/diesel machines are likely to be part of the transition away from diesel. Other emerging technologies such as hydrogen fuel cell electric machines and vehicles are also in development.
- See the report Diesel use in NSW agriculture and opportunities to support net zero emissions (PDF, 1741.56 KB) for a more detailed discussion of this topic.
- Video presentation by Nathan Gore-Brown at 2021 National Renewables in Agriculture Conference: Case Study - Exploring beyond diesel
- NSW DPI online forums: Exploring beyond diesel