While there are bigger electricity consuming sectors in the USA, farming still consumes 1.74% of the nation’s electricity output. However, according to the same statistics as provided by the USDA, 6% of farms earn $56,000 from renewables. That’s net, meaning after all of their consumption, they’re left with enough homebrewed electricity to sell back to the grid. How?
In a word, sustainability. Farms are increasingly turning to green electricity generation to cope with lighting demands, both in the mini-climates of specialized barns, during summer evenings and to contribute to new income streams. For many businesses, harnessing sustainability and turning your energy production into profit starts with those lights.
Switching to green lighting
The first step to achieving sustainable lighting on the farm is through fine-tuning your lighting as it is. The first big step is by moving to all LED setups. LEDs comprehensively outperform incandescent and other types of bulbs, with MIT finding that classic farming setup bulbs like the high pressure sodium light required changing yearly, as opposed to the LED every 19. What’s more, where indoors intensive farming is concerned, LED lights can enhance chlorophyll production by tweaking to emit the correct light tone for the plants in question. These principles can taken across the estate; you can enhance security through utilizing LED lamps that charge passively throughout the day, create zero-sum energy costs, and there are barn heating lights that apply the same principle.
Developing green heating
LEDs can provide a level of heating that is suitable in summer through bespoke redlights. Colder winter months may generate a greater energy requirement as will the heating of your own personal living arrangements. There are a few key ways for farms to achieve eco-friendly heating practice. First off, make the most and recycle your heat. Many farms will produce significant amounts of biofuel from methane and, potentially, biomass - put it to work. Heat recycling has been put to use in environments as diverse as farms to Amazon’s data centre, demonstrating its value to businesses.
Secondly, consider employing extensive solar power. Solar has been hampered by poor storage durations, but according to the EPA, long-duration solar storage is becoming affordable and commonplace. As a result, it will become easier for agricultural businesses to use the sunlight to build and store energy for longer periods of time.
The business case for green energy
Ultimately, the environmentally friendly farm will utilize energy-saving bulbs and generate electricity on its own accord. Aside from being beneficial to the environment, there’s a serious business case to go alongside the principles of being a sustainable farm. A study by advocacy group The Environmental Defense Fund have constructed case studies of outfits in Ohio, finding that their approach to whole-business sustainability has improved reputation, enhanced their market appeal and marketability and created new revenue.
Bringing sustainability to your farm encompasses electricity and therefore the electricity and heating you require. Using solar power and new technology, you can effectively and affordably generate and store your own resources. That way, you will develop your business, enhance your reputation, save money and save the planet, too.