Current ongoing issues such as, climate change, population growth, changes in policy, trade agreements and trade flows, means that farmers find themselves, and indeed their livelihoods, often at the mercy of many different, wider forces. Therefore, it is imperative that the contemporary farmer is able and willing to adapt their business, in accordance with, what is currently at least, an increasingly challenging and changeable agricultural industry and business environment. Certainly, a progressive and exciting way in which many farmers could and already are, adapting or supplementing their business, is through the farming of Renewable Energy.
Farming Renewable Energy
Historically, many farmers have already been producing a form of Renewable Energy through the growing of corn, used to produce Ethanol. However, there are now a growing number of farmers utilising their land to harvest more modern Renewable Energies, such as Solar or Wind, to supplement their business or, as a complete alternative, to the more traditional farming practices. Indeed, farming renewable energies, such as Solar and Wind, can potentially provide farmers with a long-term secure and guaranteed income.
Renewable Energy: Solar and Wind
There are obviously, two primary forms of renewable energy that a farm business could adapt to, which could not only save them money, but also, provide a generous and secure, long-term income:
On a daily basis, the Earth receives a truly enormous amount of energy from the sun; Certainly, to illustrate this, the entirety of the energy stored in the Earth’s reserves of oil, natural gas and coal, equals approximately, the energy from just twenty days of sunshine.Although different regions of the planet, such as desserts, get more sun than others and therefore, have the potential for harvesting more solar energy, most areas receive enough sunlight to make solar farming practical.In those areas that receive much sunlight, farming solar energy can be a viable standalone agricultural business enterprise. However, even in those areas that receive less sunlight, there are several ways in which harvesting solar energy can supplement a farm business, by feeding back into the national grid, saving money on electricity bills, for instance.Moreover, solar energy can be utilised to aid in the lighting and heating of greenhouses and farm buildings, etc.In addition, it should be noted that, the cost of installing solar panels, has become much cheaper in recent years, making solar an extremely viable and attractive option for farm businesses.
Of course, wind power has a long and rich historical association with farming; however, over the past few decades, there have been huge advances in wind turbine technology, resulting in the ability to generate massive amounts of energy.A single, modern wind turbine installed on an agricultural site with just good average wind speeds, can provide further income for a farm, or indeed, reduce running costs, by providing the farm with supplementary power.In addition, unlike farming solar, wind turbines do not require much in terms of land; thereby, enabling for the continuation of crop and livestock farming, for instance, which can be done around turbines.However, it should be stressed that currently, purchasing and installing a wind turbine is not cheap; that said, the returns over time, should greatly offset the initial cost.
The renewable energy options that make most sense for a farm, for instance, solar and/or wind, will of course depend greatly on myriad factors, such as cost and the geographic location of the farm, which will determine average sunlight hours and optimal weather conditions. Nevertheless, as solar and wind technologies continue to advance at an ever-greater pace, factors such as, cost and geographic location, should prove to be much less of an obstacle to farms adapting to solar and wind energies, moving forward.
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