While water is a scarce commodity, sunlight is almost always in abundance in the Australian Outback.
No commodity is more precious in the vast Australian Outback than water, especially on cattle and sheep properties that are measured in thousands of square kilometres. However, Hamilton Downs, a 2,000 square kilometre cattle property 80 kilometres South West of Alice Springs, average barely 280 mm of rain a year, and relies totally on underground water. Up until now the property has relied on wind power and a supporting diesel generator for a constant water supply. Nevertheless, a large number of windless days and safety issues in connection with the ongoing maintenance of the tall windmills have encouraged the Hamilton Downs Manager, Mr. Jamie Evans to look for a safer and more efficient alternative.
Hamilton Downs runs about 5,000 shorthorn cattle. The original pump installation was operated by a windmill and supported by a diesel generator pumping water from a well 100 metres from the homestead. The solution provided water to a holding tank that, in turn, fed stock troughs in three paddocks - the largest of which is 223 square kilometers in size.
While ongoing maintenance and lack of wind have always been key problems associated with wind power, occupational health and safety had become equally critical. Hamilton Downs manager, Mr. Jamie Evans has become more aware of the dangers his employees face in climbing windmills - problems that are difficult to overcome in a vast land where cranes are a rarity.
The Grundfos solution
While water is a scarce commodity, sunlight is almost constantly in abundance in the Australian Outback. Therefore, a SQFlex Solar and generator back-up seemed a much more effi cient solution for the cattle property in central Australia. But more importantly, the PV solar mod-ules are virtually maintenance-free and much safer to handle than the original windmills. On a trial basis and in conjunction with Grundfos Australia, Territory Pastoral Services installed 12 PV solar modules to power a three-inch helical rotor pump set in the well at a level of 64 metres. The solar modules produce a maximum of 546 watts and if the sun fails, the generator will be used as a back-up power system.
Not only has Hamilton Downs’ new water supply proven very reliable and effi cient, Mr. Jamie Evans also emphasises that the SQFlex Solar saves him considerable amounts of time on maintenance and repair: “This is an important factor when it takes a day to do a well check and inspect troughs and stock. That used to be a full time job.”
In close cooperation with Grundfos Mr. Jamie Evans monitors the effi ciency of the system during the trial period and he is very pleased with the potential of the pumps. “We would certainly - when drilling new wells - look at installing SQFlex pumps in future rather than using windmills. They certainly require less maintenance, and are a heck of a lot safer and easier to repair than windmills“, says Mr. Evans.