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Powering the farm with solar

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Farmers are turning to solar power to provide electricity for their operations.

Like the rest of the world, farming is constantly evolving to keep up with the times. A key part of modernization involves the use of new technology to make farming more efficient. 

One of the largest improvements to today’s farming is the availability and utilization of electricity. In the United States, electricity has become widely accessible to everyone, even rural farmers. However, there are still some parts of rural America that do not have equal access to electricity. As a result, many farmers are turning to solar power to provide electricity for their operations. 

“Of all the possible renewable sources of electrical energy, solar energy is the most abundant and easily accessible,” said Dennis Brothers, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System associate professor with an agricultural economics specialty.

Therefore, solar power is a widely accepted source for energy production in rural areas. It is also an environment-friendly way to harvest energy. 

What is the best option?

Obviously solar power is not for everyone. It fits into certain operations, and it is important to know which option is better—solar power or grid electricity.

The first aspect to consider is the price. Grid electricity and solar power are similar in terms of the price of the energy supplied. However, their location and installation can be different. If grid electricity is not available in a certain area, the consumer must pay to have electricity supplied to that location. This option includes power poles, lines and labor to install the equipment. 

It is also important to note that solar power costs more than only the electricity supplied. It requires purchasing and installing equipment such as panels, batteries, converters and more. 

Brothers highly recommends that producers who are going solar consult with a reputable solar energy installer. 

“Once the required amount of energy is determined, a competent installer can design a system that best fits the needs of the operation,” he said.

Intermittency

Another important aspect of solar energy is intermittency. Intermittency is the amount of time that the sun shines and does not shine. This measurement is also related to the fluctuating intensity of the sunlight.

“The source of solar energy is free, but not unlimited,” Brothers said. “In operations that must always have energy such as poultry houses or greenhouses, intermittency can cause a problem.”

Because of this, the farmer must invest in batteries that can store enough energy to power these operations when energy is unavailable.

In terms of equipment variety, there are different types of solar panels as well.

“For the Alabama farmer today, rigid silicon solar panels, either single or bifacial, are appropriate for most applications,” Brothers said.

Source: Auburn University, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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