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New Zealand plans its first energy demonstration farm

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has announced it would build the country’s first energy demonstration farm, in partnership with the Lincoln University.

The project aims to find sustainable energy solutions to meet the government’s carbon reduction requirements.

The farm is designed to be fossil fuel-free and features solar and wind power, biofuel, and energy storage solutions while showcasing the range of technology available and how it can be applied, as well as providing data for research and innovation.

As per media reports, Dr Wim de Koning and Dr Jeff Heyl of Lincoln University will be leading the initiative.

They stated that the energy demonstration farm would be unique in its set-up and a world-first in its scale and scope. Transitioning to sustainable energy in the agri-food sector is a necessity.

The six-hectare farm site is near the Lincoln University Dairy Farm and the main campus.

The government’s zero-carbon legislation has provided a timeframe of 30 years for completion of this transition. To meet the government goal of 100% renewable energy by 2035, it will need to start making the first major steps with urgency, they added.

Dr de Koning said the farm would show the diverse range of sustainable energy production technology currently available, from fossil fuel to circular food production systems.

It’s leading transformation through demonstration – to facilitate sustainable, feasible and bankable solutions. The small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the primary industries need pre-investment proof of concept.

They don’t have the capacity to make mistakes by investing in the wrong technology. At the energy demonstration farm, the researchers can explore alternatives, not all of which may be successful. They can provide that proof, so the right choices are made.

MPI Acting Director Investment Portfolio, Cheyne Gillooly, said the energy demonstration farm has the potential for farmers to explore the technology and test it before they make an investment.

Farming is a high-tech, high capital business and New Zealand farmers have always been at the forefront of innovative farming techniques.

“We’re excited to support the Energy Demonstration Farm and help give farmers an opportunity to test the technology beforehand.”

OpenGov reported earlier that two local companies from Hamilton collaborated to develop cutting-edge technology to simulate biosecurity threats. Using virtual reality to assess frontline staff dealing with imported goods is a first for New Zealand.

The technology has the potential to be used to educate all New Zealanders to identify and respond to biosecurity risks. The Ministry of Primary Industries has approved the technology to be used in biosecurity refresher training for Accredited Persons (APs).

The course uses virtual reality to train staff dealing with biosecurity contamination immediately post-border in the most realistic way.

The training course is not undertaken in a classroom using a written examination-style assessment. Instead, it offers an online course with a virtual reality assessment that lets trainees demonstrate their practical knowledge and skills.

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