On-Farm Renewable Energy Options
Transitioning to Renewable Energy
Transitioning to some form of renewable energy is part of every farm's sustainability plan. Analyzing current energy usage in order to expose inefficiencies is a means to reduce current energy consumption, which improves farm profitability and protects the environment. Beyond that, a farm that can produce all or part of their own energy will be less vulnerable to global fluctuations in oil and electric prices. Greater energy self-reliance is part of farm sustainability.
What To Do Now
While the transition to renewable forms of energy is required in the long run, the economics have yet to be fully worked out for New Jersey farms.
Ideally, systems replacing carbon-based energy systems need to be reliable, convenient, and economically viable. Present capital costs of renewable energy sources require government incentives to be feasible.
The best thing to do is to call in specific vendors that can help you with the current government programs and determine which renewable energy sources best suit your farm location and conditions.
Look into Net Metering if you plan to utilize solar or wind energy systems. A Net Metering agreement between you and your utility company allows you to use the electricity you generate first, reducing what you would normally buy from your electric utility. If you generate more electricity than you use, the excess goes through your electric meter and into the grid, spinning your meter backward. Your meter records the net amount, measured as the difference between the electricity your system generates and the electricity you purchase from your electric utility.
Solar Energy & Photovoltaics
|Photo: Dave Horne|
Solar power is a low maintenance, clean source of energy that reduces carbon footprint and dependence on petroleum based fuels. With state and federal energy credits and incentives, the system should pay for itself within 5 to 20 years. New Jersey is second in the nation for photovoltaic installations and therefore many experienced installation professionals are available to help you determine if solar renewable energy would be appropriate for your farm.
Wind power is a clean and inexhaustible source of energy. Successful harvesting depends on your location as well as proper turbine installation and correct tower type. The best way to determine if wind power is appropriate for your farm is to call in a vendor for an evaluation.
- How to Buy a Wind-Electric System
- Explore wind applications and incentives on the
New Jersey Clean Energy Program site.
Other Renewable Sources
The following sources are still under study to determine ways they can be utilized as economically feasible sustainable energy sources by New Jersey farmers:
- Energy Crops & Biofuels
- Biomass: Read about how NJ Plainview Growers burn energy pellets at their Allamuchy location.