Solar Power on the Farm: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Agriculture

Solar Power on the Farm: Sustainable Energy Solutions in Agriculture

Introducing renewable energy on the farm can bring a plethora of advantages to farmers and agricultural workers. From energy independence to cost savings, the move can play a large part in ensuring a successful future for sustainable agriculture. Green farming practices have been growing in popularity over the past few years as more and more farmers are waking up to the long-term cost benefits and reduction in carbon footprints of switching over from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

Just as busy farmers are very used to multi-tasking, so farmhouse solar systems can also be put to work in several areas at once. Every penny counts when running a farm, especially in these financially challenging times. It is vital that money is spent wisely and with an eye to long-term financial gain. Here are some ways in which solar panels can represent an excellent return on investment for farms across the board.

Outbuildings, crop barns and livestock sheds

One of the highest outgoings for dairy, poultry and other farms producing livestock is electricity. Keeping cattle sheds, lambing barns and milking facilities lit, heated and supplied with water costs a lot of money. Yet it is vital to preserve the wellbeing of the animals and birds inside. Switching to solar power can save money and reduce reliance on fossil fuels for this important aspect of livestock farming.

Similarly, using solar energy to light grain stores and power security systems, CCTV etc. can save money while protecting valuable crops at the same time. Freezing fruit and vegetables to prolong their useful life is another example of how renewable energy can help crop farmers operate more sustainably.

Farming Equipment, Vehicles and Storage

When considering solar solutions for farms, equipment, vehicles and storage are crucial aspects to get right. Electric vehicles are now mainstream and can offer highly effective alternatives to petrol or diesel-powered cars, trucks, vans, quad bikes and tractors. Other benefits to changing to electric vehicles, besides cutting down on fossil fuel use, include being able to charge them on the farm so that they can be ready to drive whenever they are needed.

Likewise, using renewable energy to power agricultural equipment is clean, easy and efficient. There is less need to store flammable fuels on site, which is safer for everyone, and takes up less storage space. If farmers need to store surplus electricity generated by solar panels, they can do so using specialist solar batteries that can be kept somewhere accessible for when extra power is required.

Leasing Farmland for Solar

This is a great way to put any unused land or flat surfaces to good use. Installing a solar system on a barn or outhouse building, or on spare land, gives farmers the chance to profit from the sun’s energy twice. First of all, they can install solar panels for their own use – and then lease any extra space or land for other individuals or organisations to place solar panels and harness their own renewable energy.

Farmland is often excellent for solar energy generation due to it being flat, well exposed to the sun and often located away from built-up areas. Rural communities can also benefit from additional solar energy being produced on unused farmland and made available to others living in the vicinity.

Solar Panel Installation and Maintenance

Installing solar panels on farms is a straightforward process when carried out by professional company for optimum safety and after-sales support. Farmers can explore different options around type of panels, size of installation and potential; locations for the system. Battery storage options can also be included to maximise the return on investment for farms keen to make the switch to 24/7 renewable energy.

In addition, cleaning solar panels on farms is simple to do with the right equipment. Use a soft brush to clear leaves and other debris, with a damp cloth to gently wipe away stubborn dirt or dust. Often, rain can wash away much of the surface dirt, leaving the panels sparkling and ready to continue generating electricity from the sun. Finally, a regular servicing arrangement will keep the system operating properly all year round, removing work from busy farmers and keeping the power flowing across the farm.

How to care for your garden and keep your pool warm using Sustainable Energy

How to care for your garden and keep your pool warm using Sustainable Energy

Now that the Spring sunshine has returned – at least some of the time – we can all start to think about spending more time outdoors. For those of us lucky enough to have a garden, this is the perfect time to plan how to power various elements of it sustainably. The more renewable energy we can use in our garden and outdoor areas, the less reliance we need to have on the National Grid and finite fossil fuels. Other benefits include a reduced carbon footprint, greater energy efficiency and cost savings.

From outdoor heated swimming pols to water features, irrigation systems and greenhouse lighting and heating, gardens can take up a lot of energy to keep them looking at their best and cultivating healthy plants. The bigger the garden, the higher the electricity bills. This is especially true during the colder months. We might be in Spring now, but there are still days when the skies are greyer and the temperature lower than many of us would like. Yet, the plants still need to be watered and protected from the worst of the cold spells – and the swimming pool is so much nicer to use when the water is lovely and warm.

Here are some outdoor areas that could benefit from sustainable energy sources, such as solar power and photovoltaic cells installed on the roof of the nearest building. From eco-friendly pool heating to renewable ways to power water fountains, there are so many ways to harness the electricity-generating power of the sun’s rays over the coming season.

Outdoor swimming pool

Solar energy is a highly effective sustainable pool heating solution that can provide heat all year round. It can provide an extended swimming season too, especially if you install solar water heaters to take the chill off the water in the Spring and Autumn. Using solar energy for pools is a quick and easy way to save on electricity bills without having to cover the pool up for long periods of time. Other pool area considerations can also include using solar powered equipment such as jet washers to keep the surrounding walkways clean and free from garden debris. Just a few green pool solutions to think about when considering installing solar panels this year.

Lighting the way

Solar powered lights are becoming very popular among garden designers and enthusiasts. They can highlight chosen plants, statues and other garden elements beautifully and line paths and driveways to help people find their way and stay safe in the garden and grounds after dark. There are so many ways to use solar lights in the garden, including lighting up garden ponds and switching to low-energy LED lights for porch lights, wall lights and hanging atmospheric lanterns in trees. Don’t forget to keep a few solar powered torches charged up for emergency use outside at night. These can also be helpful when cleaning solar panels in duller weather or after dusk.

Fountains and other ornamental water features

Gardens featuring flowing water offer an all-round sensory experience with sounds playing as important a role as sights and scents. If you have a fountain or other water feature in your garden, consider running it using renewable energy such as solar power. The cabling to set it up is not complex and energy can be drawn from solar panels on the roof of the house or shed to reduce installation expenses. If you have fish in the pond that rely on water being pumped through it, have a plan to continue providing electricity to the pump after dark, when solar panels will not be able to provide sufficient power alone. An energy storage battery would work well, or a hybrid system that enables you to switch to National Grid power when required.

Plant Watering and Care

Irrigation systems can save gardeners a great deal of time and effort, especially if they have a lot of plants to water. This type of system can be powered by solar energy for a more sustainable approach to plant care. Other watering solutions can also use solar power, including sprinklers, self-timed devices and drip irrigation kits for hanging baskets and pots. Plants being grown in the greenhouse also need careful attention when it comes to light and heat – again, these systems can be powered using solar energy to reduce electricity bills and increase crop yield. Perfect for growing salad plants, ready for lots of post-swimming pool lunches outdoors in the Summer.