With many advances in solar technology and remote automation, farms, ranches and even small urban gardens now use solar-powered devices to provide a renewable energy source. From small solar chargers to an array of PV panels and solar pumps, more and more farmers and growers are shifting to solar to fulfill many basic functions.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture identifies trends and future potential of solar energy use among farmers, ranchers, and small growers. They note that through solar energy, intensive, conventional farms and ranches can reduce their energy cost and total emission of greenhouse gases.
Renewable Energy for Farmers and Ranchers
Farms and ranches have a long history of harnessing alternative energy, from wind mills for irrigation to wind generators for electricity. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, many conventional and organic farms now use solar chargers to power and run parts of a farm, making operations more efficient.
Greenhouse Heating and Crop Drying
Majority of energy a conventional farm consumes is for greenhouse greening and crop drying. Today, agricultural facilities utilize ground-mounted systems for heating greenhouses, barns and poultry houses and drying sludge, crops and grains.
Skylighting and Solar Electrical Lighting
The enormous amount of sunlight a farm receives in a day can sufficiently warm homes and livestock buildings. Applying skylighting strategies is a cost-effective and energy-saving approach to provide steady supply of fresh air that is critical to animal health.
Solar Power for Water Pumping and Irrigation
Installation of solar power systems doesn’t come cheap, but it will be more beneficial in the long run. Solar water heaters can provide warm to hot water to clean pen and dairy equipment and stimulate cows’ udders. Solar energy can also be used for sludge, crop, and grain drying. Farmers can cut fuel costs to dry crops in cloudy weather.
Rebates and Tax Credits
Moreover, the new policies mandated by the U.S.D.A have boosted solar systems installation among farmers and ranchers. This growth is due to the many incentives that farmers, ranchers and even regular homeowners can receive from the government for converting to solar energy. To encourage people to shift to solar, state and federal government agencies and utilities offer tax rebates of up to %30.
By using solar energy, agriculture in the U.S. has the potential to significantly reduce the use of gas, diesel, gasoline, wood and subsequently emitted GHGs. States with high agricultural production use the most energy.
By implementing these policies, state governments can focus on improving production and energy use and emission specific to their region. Hence, influencing the potential for clean solar energy sources and improving geographic distribution of CO2 emissions.
There are many other applications that can efficiently and conveniently run on solar energy. In the past, traditional farmers have enormously benefited from the sun to run many functions. There simply is no reason why we shouldn’t apply these methods and strategies now.