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On-Farm Energy Use

On-farm energy use is as diverse as farms themselves. A cow-calf ranch will use energy in a very different way than a row crop farm. According to a 2013 report by BCS Incorporated, the state’s agricultural operations face direct energy expenses in excess of $400 million annually. The report states that:

“The Colorado agriculture sector’s primary energy improvement opportunities can be captured through the use of efficient electric-powered pumps and reduced consumption of petroleum fuels (diesel and gasoline) for on-farm machinery and vehicles. Additional opportunities exist for renewable energy development—including methane digesters, wind energy, small hydropower and solar photovoltaic, and solar thermal—that can be used to provide distributed on-farm energy production. Based on analysis and synthesis of the energy data identified throughout both phases of this project, it is reasonable to estimate that over the next 10 years, existing agricultural operations in Colorado have the potential to reduce electric usage by more than 90 million kilowatt hours annually and install more than 10 megawatts of on-farm renewable energy capacity”.

Common Energy Efficiency Measures

Since the report was issued, programs to provide energy audits and funding for farm energy measures have been developed and enhanced. Common energy efficiency measures for dairies have included LED lighting, variable speed drives on vacuum pumps, heat recovery, scroll compressors, and plate cooler additions to milk lines before milk enters the storage tank. Common efficiency measures for irrigated farms have included variable speed drives, pump upgrades, sprinkler nozzle replacement, and high efficiency motors.

Last updated: October 20, 2017 at 13:02 pm