News Release: Renewable Energy a Smart Choice for Farmers and Ranchers

Dec. 22, 2003 | By Sarah Barba | Contact media relations

Golden, Colo. — For many rural families, the cost of extending a power line to a home or other facility can be time consuming and costly. By using alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass, farmers, ranchers, business owners and homeowners can reduce their utility bills, stabilize electricity supplies and help reduce America's dependence on foreign energy supplies.

Engineers from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) next month will host three workshops on "Solar, Wind and Biomass Energy for Farm, Ranch and Home" at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. The workshops will feature hands-on displays of clean, renewable energy systems that farmers and ranchers can use today.

The consumer-oriented workshops will offer an introduction to solar, wind and biomass energy systems, which can provide economical ways to produce electricity and hot water. The workshop will also describe how energy efficiency combines with renewable sources to provide clean, low-cost energy.

Some ways in which renewable energy can be made to work in rural applications include:

  • Providing hot water for home and farm use
  • Pumping water for livestock
  • Powering automatic gate openers, aeration fans in grain storage bins and automatic supplement feeders
  • Powering security and task lighting, as well as entrance signs
  • Powering buildings and operating labor-saving equipment far from utility lines
  • Helping protect users from electricity price spikes, brownouts, rolling blackouts and other grid-related reliability and supply security issues
  • Avoiding the high costs of extending power lines to remote locations
  • Producing 5 kilowatts to 5 megawatts of power using small modular biomass power systems.

"In many cases, renewable energy systems provide the cheapest and most reliable way to meet the electricity needs of farms and ranches," said NREL engineer John Thornton. "Installing a solar or wind energy system is often cheaper than running a new power line if electricity is needed one-quarter mile or more away from an existing power line."

NREL also will sponsor an exhibit for the duration of the Stock Show with free literature on solar, wind and biomass energy in the Hall of Education.

The workshops are free with admission to the Stock Show and will be offered 10 a.m. to noon, Jan. 10 in the NWSS Livestock Building and Jan. 17 and 25 in the Beef Palace Auction Arena.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's premier laboratory for renewable energy research and development and a leading laboratory for energy efficiency R&D. NREL is operated for DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.