“The agriculture industry in Australia is a large industry both in exports and domestically and it is a high user of carbon,” Co-founder Terry Curtis says.
“So any shift towards renewable technologies from such a large industry is only beneficial in the long run for Australia and obviously the globe.”
Despite the impact of the coronavirus shutdowns on the general economy, Curtis says AG Energy is ramping up operations, with an increase in farmers looking to sign onto the startup’s solar power purchase agreements (PPA).
“Farmers switch over to renewable energy for a zero capital outlay and on top of that they see instant savings in a reduction in their per kilowatt cost of energy.”
AG Energy’s PPA business model sees the company finance and install the solar energy system, with long term returns delivered through customers’ power bills.
Curtis says while AG Energy is now gaining traction, the traditionally more conservative views about energy in the agricultural sector meant he’s had to work hard at selling the benefits of switching to renewables.
“Farmers do seem to be a bit more sceptical of green technologies,” he says.
“However, they are big consumers of electricity and being in rural and remote regions, they actually do pay quite high prices for electricity as well,” he says.
“So it’s definitely a communication challenge, breaking down those barriers with those potential customers and helping them transition their business models, from traditional use of electricity to more renewable technologies.
“Farming and agricultural communities are very tight knit communities, so as we have continued to grow, more customers have come on board and the referral system is really helping us out.”
AG Energy says while coronavirus has seen an increase in customer interest from farmers looking to save on costs, it’s also created challenges operationally.
“The face to face stuff has stopped, which does make it difficult to connect with the agriculture community,” he says.
“Technology can prove difficult, sometimes there’s a breakdown in communication with their internet, and they have to drive 50 kilometres to the nearest town just so they can get phone service.”
As the economy begins to awaken post coronavirus shutdowns, Curtis says AG Energy is well placed to capitalise on the push towards renewable energy as climate change regains momentum as a dominant global issue.
AG Energy, which recently received Clean Energy Council accreditation, is now finalising plans to expand out from Queensland and NSW, into Victoria and South Australia.