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Agriculture Exploring Renewable Energy Storage Solutions
- Aug 15, 2022 2:25 pm GMT
The agriculture sector needs innovative energy storage solutions if farmers hope to make the most of their renewable energy. Industry professionals are exploring today’s leading electricity storage technologies for their needs and a growing market for sustainable energy collection real estate.
Rural and agricultural areas have a key role in renewable electricity’s future, but efficient storage will be crucial for success.
The Role of Renewable Energy in Agriculture
When many people think of sustainable energy today, they often limit those thoughts to things like electric vehicles. Agriculture may not be the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, many imagine stereotypical farms in the middle of nowhere with no modern technology. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as anyone in the renewable energy industry will know.
Renewable energy has become a vital part of the future of agriculture. A “solar revolution” has emerged over recent years, with farmers adding solar fields to their land and covering whole areas with solar panels. This allows them to convert unprofitable land into space for renewable electricity generation, helping power the rest of the farm and surrounding areas. Often, sustainable energy companies bid for the use of farmers’ spare acres for solar fields.
It’s not just solar power sweeping the agriculture industry — biofuel and biopower also have incredible potential. Converting biomass and sources of methane from agricultural production into biofuels helps mitigate agriculture’s negative emissions impact. At the same time, this power can produce green energy on farms, opening the door to a new revenue stream in a sector increasingly experiencing financial struggles.
The Next Step — Effective Energy Storage
The widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies in agriculture is excellent news for farmers and the wider world. However, there’s still a critical missing piece to ensure the success of all parties involved — effective storage solutions. This is important for several reasons, including basic functionality and emergency power.
On one level, farmers investing in renewable energy need to be able to plan for long-term growth. Just as farmers design grain bins for future expansion, sustainable electricity infrastructure in agriculture also needs a design with an eye to the future.
A farmer could install solar panels on the roof of one of their barns, providing power every day by refilling on a daily dose of sunshine. But what happens if there’s a long overcast period? The practical functionality of sustainable electricity sources depends on effective energy storage, especially if farmers hope to run off 100% renewable energy. The same thing goes for collecting biofuels or biopower — collecting it is only half the battle.
It is also worth noting the benefits of energy storage for farmers. When energy storage is unavailable on-site, renewable energy collected on farms may transfer to the power grid. More and more farmers are beginning to express interest in switching to on-site energy storage to use their renewable energy at the source better. This has resulted in a “behind the meter” energy storage market.
Next-Gen Energy Storage Tech in Agriculture
The rising popularity of renewable energy in agriculture is resulting in a need for clean and efficient energy storage. Ideally, this would not damage agricultural land more than absolutely necessary. What solutions are on the table?
New energy technologies are continuously developing, but fuel cells are one potential solution. These devices are cleaner than batteries, especially considering the not-so-clean supply chain of lithium often in “green” energy storage. Fuel cells offer an alternative to conventional batteries and may even last longer since they don’t suffer from diminishing discharge returns.
Additionally, pumped-hydro plants are gaining popularity as a highly effective means of renewable energy storage. This method involves pumping energy uphill, then pouring it back down again. There are already farms adopting this technology, with pump houses as small as an average shipping container. Pumped-hydro plants may be more installation intensive than fuel cells, but they can be highly effective for high-capacity energy storage.
The Rise of Renewables in Agriculture
Renewable energy is on track to be a cornerstone of the agriculture industry's future. Farmers can collect energy on their land and use it immediately, slashing the energy costs to operate the world’s vital farms and agricultural facilities.
Agricultural land is perfect for sustainable electricity collection and innovative storage methods are helping farmers and communities make the most of it. By combining modern energy storage solutions and renewable collection technologies, agriculture can help power clean energy’s future.
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