| deployment advances
Wind is strongest during
the fall and winter seasons,
when solar heating is at
a minimum. Many farms
therefore run a combina-
tion of solar panels and
saving energy on the family farm
By Richard Crume
richard Crume is an
and teaches a university
course on air pollution,
climate change and
energy efficiency. He is
a regular contributor to
SOLAR TODA Y.
The family farm is not the first place you would think to look for the latest energy-saving technologies. But solar panels, wind turbines and methane digesters
are increasingly common on farms, large and small, across
the United States. According to the On-Farm Renewable
Energy Production Survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture ( nass.usda.gov), farms employing these renewable
technologies are saving an average of $2,400 annually on
their utility bills.
The USDA study found that the number of farm-based
solar, wind and digester systems has more than doubled
since 2005, and further market growth is expected as farmers take advantage of incentives to stabilize their rising
energy costs. More than 8,500 farms report using some
combination of photovoltaic (PV) panels, thermal solar
panels, wind turbines and methane digesters.
Dairy farming, which uses a lot of electricity for
according to the On-Farm renewable energy
Production survey by the u.s. department of
agriculture, farms employing renewable technologies
are saving an average of $2,400 annually
on their utility bills.
14 May 2011 SOLAR TODA Y
1. California Wisconsin
2. Texas New York
3. Hawaii California
4. Colorado Pennsylvania
5. Oregon Vermont
Source: On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey by the U. S. Department of Agriculture
refrigerating milk, building ventilation and lighting, milking
machines and hot water for equipment cleaning, turns out
to be the biggest beneficiary of renewable power sources.
But solar panels and wind turbines power a wide variety of
farm equipment, ranging from electric fencing and lighting, to water pumping for livestock watering and irrigation.
Renewable sources are particularly helpful in remote locations where power lines are not accessible.
Solar and wind resources are often complementary.
During the summer months when solar intensity is strong,
winds are often light. Wind is strongest during the fall
and winter seasons, when solar heating is at a minimum.
Many farms therefore run a combination of solar panels
and wind turbines.
Copyright © 2011 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.