Entrepreneur: Karin Stark, Narromine
Karin Stark is using her own interests and experience to pair agriculture with renewable energy.
With a background in environmental management, Ms Stark also helps manage ‘Waverleigh’, Narromine with her partner Jon Elder.
Their installation of a 500kW solar-powered diesel pump system at the farm has provided a yardstick for other farmers to consider introducing renewable energy to their operations.
“I am really passionate about trying to accelerate the use of renewable energy on-farm which reduces emissions and addresses climate change as well as being financially beneficial for farmers. It provides diversity of income,” she said.
Installed by Australian company ReAqua and comprising of 1500 solar panels, the system provides the couple with a 50 per cent saving on their annual running costs.
“It’s also cutting 500 tonnes of carbon emissions and we are on a five-year payback.”
Through her knowledge, Ms Stark has identified the potential for other operators to use solar power for irrigation and other on-farm activities, along with the capacity for wind farming and bio-gas opportunities.
“We ran a field day which featured our neighbour Andrew Gill’s 100kW system through Macquarie 2100 which attracted about 100 people which was really good.”
Her association ReAqua led to Ms Stark’s employment as a general manager-strategy for the company.
“In that role, I have worked on grants for farmers, marketing and strategy for partnerships.”
Ms Stark is also committed to introducing renewable energy on-farm and organised the inaugural Renewables in Agriculture Conference and Expo held in Wagga Wagga on November 14 2019.
“The aim was to try to increase renewable generation across the state for community and farming. It has a whole community benefit.”
The conference idea evolved from her experiences, and Ms Stark worked with the National Farmers Federation, NSW Farmers and the Clean Energy Council to plan the 2020 event.
“It’s something that needs to happen, giving people a broad understanding of the options and the benefits,” she said.
Ms Stark was also a finalist in the 2019 NSW-ACT Agrifutures Rural Women’s Award and aims to use her experience towards future development.