Solar forecasting technology developed at CSIRO's Newcastle energy centre is being used on a farm in western NSW to improve the efficiency of a solar pump.
The cotton farm near Narromine has a 500 kilowatt solar diesel pump powered by 1,500 solar panels spread over a kilometre.
While the system reduces diesel usage by 50 per cent, it is hoped the technology will further optimise the system by cutting diesel use and emissions.
The project is being undertaken with the solar pumping business ReAqua.
One limitation of large scale solar pumping is the start-stop effect of intermittent cloud cover causing shading of the solar array.
This either stops the pump or causes the generator to start and offset the lost solar production.
Frequent start-stop events can increase generator maintenance, reduce water volume delivered and consume excess fuel.
CSIRO's technology delivers tailored forecasts of cloud movements which can then optimise solar energy generation systems.
"This technology can help save both money and emissions. It reduces wear and tear of the generator from reduced use, so also saves on maintenance costs. It also ensures that remote areas can use renewable energy sources to the fullest extent," CSIRO senior research engineer Chris Knight said.