There is a growing number of farms and agricultural businesses turning to renewable energy to power their daily operations. With the rising cost in electricity provided by a volatile utility grid, and the decreasing cost of solar and wind energy, the shift to renewables has become viable.
Agriculture is a sector that can benefit hugely from renewable energy. The demand for food is increasing at an exponential rate due to a rising population, and unpredictable weather conditions is posing a threat to the safety of food production.
Applications of renewable energy on farms
Powering your daily activities
Energy produced by solar can be used to power irrigation systems. Irrigation is a necessity and it can be vital to producing a good quality crop at the end of the season. Solar boasts a clean and cost effective method of pumping water and only relies on the sun for energy. Solar pumps can also be used to power remote systems and will not require a connection to the grid.
Many livestock farmers, especially in the poultry industry, need a continuous supply of fresh air. Renewable systems can be put in place to optimize the flow of ventilation and sunlight. Solar water heaters can be used to provide hot water for the cleaning of cattle pens. The same water can also be used to stimulate the cow’s udders. Energy from the sun can also be used to power farm houses as well as farm offices.
Taking you off the grid
Installing solar panels on your farm buildings such as pack-houses, farm houses and sheds has the potential to take farm businesses completely off the grid. Some farmers would even opt to install their solar systems on the lower potential soils where agriculture production is limited. For many farmers this is an attractive solution as they pay an extremely high tariff for electricity. The amount of electricity that is used on farms is also substantial due to the energy intensive practices that needed for the production of food.
Renewable technologies are available that allows farmers to be energy independent. Although there is a large initial cost attached to these systems, the systems pay themselves off and can potentially save you millions of rands in the future. For farmers that do not have the upfront capital for renewable energy, green finance and leasing options are also available.
What are the benefits of renewable energy on the farm?
Farmers are always looking for sustainable solutions. From the use of organic and biological products to increasing soil health through minimal soil disturbance, the need for sustainability in agricultural systems is growing. Renewable energy is fast becoming a no brainer for farms. With all the benefits it has to your business, it’s hard to oppose it.
The cost is small compared to your yearly electricity bills. Although there are upfront costs involved with investing in renewable energy, solar energy provides a sustainable source of electricity and it also hedges the price of your electricity for at least 20 years. Not only is it financially sustainable, but it is also sustainable in terms of production. Having renewable energy installed also means that you do not have to worry about power outages. Gone will be the days where you will experience power cuts, which usually occur in times when you need power the most.
Agriculture is an industry that is advancing at a rapid rate. With all the new technologies available, the industry is seen as a forward thinking industry. Renewable energy is one of these technologies that could revolutionize the way we farm.
Energy that grows with you.
Systems can be installed that will grow with you and your business. It is very easy to start small and grow your renewable energy system to suit your power needs in the future.
When it comes to climate change and global warming, farmers are the ones who find themselves at the pinnacle. Sustainability is the future of food security, and renewable energy has a big role to play. Powering your farm with renewable energy not only helps to curb climate change and increase sustainability, but it lowers the cost of electricity and provides a sustainable source of power. Try it for yourself!