Factors influencing Australian sugarcane irrigators’ adoption of solar photovoltaic systems for water pumping

J. W. Powell, J. M. Welsh, D. Pannell, R. Kingwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Sugarcane farmers have several options to manage their energy costs of irrigation. One option these farmers are yet to widely adopt is solar photovoltaic (PV) systems for energy generation. The objective of the study was to understand the potential rate and peak level of adoption by Australian sugarcane irrigators of solar PV energy systems for water pumping and the key factors influencing adoption. This study used the ADOPT framework to examine farmers' adoption behaviour regarding solar PV systems. An industry survey and expert focus group findings were used to apply the ADOPT framework, and sensitivity testing was performed. The study found that after 10 years, 50% of sugarcane farmers were estimated to adopt solar PV systems for irrigation. Farmers' adoption decisions were predicted to be influenced by several factors including economic and environmental benefits, ease of use, existing knowledge, business risk, and the farmer's current financial position. Sensitivity testing revealed that improving the profitability from installing solar PV systems could markedly increase the level of adoption. Grid connection policies and government renewable energy subsidies that increased income or reduced capital costs and thereby increased economic returns for sugarcane irrigators could improve peak adoption levels by up to 40%. Government policies had a greater impact on adoption than environmental benefits generated by the PV systems. From the results we infer that the historically changing relative advantage of the technology has resulted in some farmers exercising the option to hold off investing until they feel the relative advantage has peaked. This is the first study using the ADOPT framework to consider solar technology in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100248
JournalCleaner Engineering and Technology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


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