Together with energy conservation practices, farmers can start their own energy production to become self-sufficient from the grid. Not only does renewable energy enables the farmer to save money, but it also combats global warming’s effects. Hydroelectric, geothermal, biomass, solar, and wind power can create electricity for heating, lighting, and gas for use.
This post outlines and describes appropriate applications for energy options. With a small primary investment, energy can be obtained for free from renewable sources such as the wind, sun, and water. When thinking about a renewable energy system for your site, check with local administration directives before starting construction.
Biomass Energy Production
As per the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Tripling U.S. utilization of biomass for energy production could provide up to $20 billion in new income for farmers and rural communities and reduce global warming emissions by exactly the same amount as taking 70 million cars off the street.” Animal and plant-derived materials are called biomass. Biomass such as oils and sugars from plants may use to make fuel for vehicles (Biodiesel or Biofuel), and the burning of biomass for electricity or heat is just called Biopower.
Biofuels are a renewable energy production option that can be made from plants grown on the farm to fuel vehicles. Some of the discussion surrounding biofuels has to do with using valuable agricultural land to cultivate energy crops rather than food.
To fight this controversy, some farmers decide to grow petroleum fuel crops like sunflower, canola, or crambe for the purpose of biodiesel and feedstock generation. Cultivating oilseed crops for fuel production on the farm can also be cost-effective, where after pressing the seed to extort oil, the meal byproduct has a higher market value than the oil itself.
While small scale oil presses might be expensive, some farmers have found a combined purchase with other farmers to work. Some problems of biodiesel are weak, cold-weather performance and the formulation of sediments if kept for long periods. Recycling used vegetable oil is an alternative for farmers operating their devices with biofuel.
Biopower is power generated energy production from steam created by the burning of biomass or burning gas from biodigesters. Biodigesters catch and burn gasses from the microbial breakdown of biomass like manure. While the technologies for biodigesters are simple and use for several years, clean and safe systems designed for use today.
Biomass crops like switchgrass, corn, or fast-growing trees can pelletized and burned for heating structures. Such as greenhouses or transformed into electricity by way of steam. Some byproducts like corn stovers may be use to make energy without endangering soil quality or rising erosion. Again, the purchase of a pelletizer could be adequate for farmers wanting to burn pellets for producing heat. Electricity generation from biomass for use by the general public needs a large scale system maintained by utility firms. Farmers can trade their biomass stocks.
Transportation costs in regions with smaller farms like Massachusetts will hinder large scale power production from biomass. But on-farm production remains available.
While many people think of hot springs and natural water as the source for geothermal power. It is a source of geothermal energy production available, that’s simply the constant earth temperature. Houses and farm buildings can use geothermal heat pumps to transfer air temperature and ground temperature throughout the year. Having buildings warm in winter and cool in summer.
While systems are expensive to buy and install than a standard fuel-burning heater, the payback period is 5-10 years, provided the free fuel. A geothermal system is best for new construction regarding the general excavation process involved.
Setting up a hydroelectric system on a farm depends significantly on a good source of water with a constant flow. The farm’s power needs should be documented, and if these conditions exist, then the farmer can pick from several mechanisms.
Impulse turbines, waterwheels, or reaction turbines. While waterwheels are appropriate for powering grinders and are less effective than turbines. They are relatively simple to use. They can manage a wide range of water flow and debris.
Turbines require a steady and controlled rate of flow in addition to a higher head or elevation difference from the origin of the water to the turbine blades. Generally, the larger a hydroelectric system is, the more affordable per kWh. Small hydroelectric systems are a long term expense, and 20-25 years is the lifespan plan, so plan accordingly.
Solar Energy Production
The energy production of the sun can be used for passive heating; for example, greenhouses, like solar thermal heating, or photovoltaics (PV), it may be used to transform and produce electricity. As photovoltaics are more costly, technical improvements are making them a less costly option, while photovoltaics are expensive. PV can be used for charging batteries, electrical fencing motors, fans, pumping water, or power lighting. In rural regions or divisions of the farm away from power lines, PV may be the only alternative.
Passive solar design can be adapted to heat greenhouses, a cost-effective alternative for small growers interested in increasing their growing season. A passive solar greenhouse is insulated, utilizes natural ventilation, and glass panels angle to accumulate maximum solar heat. Base on the latitude or location of the greenhouse. Solar systems for heating water work similarly to passive solar by storing and collecting heat.
On a dairy farm, where around 40 percent of the energy employed is for water heating, a solar water heater can decrease heating costs up to 85% yearly. Like any significant appliance, label and certified solar heaters are the most stable.
Wind Energy Production
Turbines used to generate electricity from wind can produce a large portion of the average power needs of a farm. However, they must be placed in high wind areas and usually need at least one acre of land to generate enough energy.
Farmers or herders with grazing land in an area with great wind speeds could also think of leasing their property for wind power production to a utility company while still being able to use their property for their animals.
For the option of running a system attached to the grid, the landowner must have an average annual wind rate of at least 10 mph. Setting up wind turbines is a long term investment, costing from $13,000 to $40,000 for a residential wind energy system. However, a wind turbine’s advantages can outweigh the costs of setup if utility prices are high. You select a turbine that fits the wind speed of your location, and ultimately on how you use and maintain your system.
Remember that a wind turbine can be an excellent homage to a photovoltaic system in temperate climates. Wind energy can be used when solar energy is not. It’s most potent in spring, fall, and winter, and also at night when hot air spreads from the surface of the earth, increasing airflow.