How much gravity feed K-line irrigation is in operation around New Zealand? Thousands of systems would be my guess. And how many of these have main supply lines reasonably close to the farm electrical reticulation? A good many would again be my guess. And now many months per year are these systems not operating when the water permit/consent allows for a 12 month water take? I have been pricing some micro hydro systems as part of gravity feed irrigation systems recently and the economics of those I have investigated do stack up. A large part of the cost of any micro hydro system is the pipeline, and this is where paralleling up with irrigation makes so much sense. In two of the systems I have been investigating, the reduction of pipeline required due to utilising the irrigation mains has meant the payback has been less than 10 years.
Farms generally have higher base loads than residential properties so are more likely to be able to utilise any electricity generated within the property rather than relying on the meagre earnings from export to the grid. With electricity prices set to slowly increase each year, any reduction of imported electricity looks attractive.Even a couple of kilowatts generated every hour of every day for 6 months could reduce the import cost of electricity by $2,200.00 per year, and that is every year. With the investment made installing K-line or centre pivot irrigation, adding the hydro system may not add a large percentage of cost.
It’s well worth looking at when considering installing a gravity feed irrigation system or adding on to an existing setup. Make those investments go further and cut back on the variables of electricity price fluctuations.

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