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USDA - Solar Energy Use in U.S. Agriculture Overview and Public Policy Issues

Government and Technical Reports
Released on May 31 2011

Source: USDA, Office of the Chief Economist, Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, April 2011 (Page 37)

Authors:
Irene M. Xiarchos; is a Natural Resource Economist and Policy Analyst at the Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, Office of the Chief Economist of the USDA.
Brian Vick; is the Lead Scientist of the Renewable Energy group at the Conservation and Production Research Lab of the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA

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USDA - Solar Energy Use in U.S. Agriculture overview and public policy issuesAbstract:

This report serves as an overview of solar energy use by farmers and ranchers in the U.S. that identifies trends and future potential. Agriculture was an early adopter for remote applications. These are still cost effective today, but in the last decade agriculture has seen the number of grid‐connected systems and the average size of solar systems increase. System sizes range from 5 watts to 1 Megawatt (MW) and cost from a couple hundred to almost 10 million dollars. Some solar thermal installations are also used in agriculture, but are currently overshadowed by solar electric. Though solar energy can reduce energy cost volatility and greenhouse gases, its high capital cost and the lower average price of competing fuel remain impediments to growth. For this reason, development in solar has been policy driven. The report reviews the regulations and incentives that are available to farmers and ranchers and have recently boosted installations, and examines major financial influences.  Solar energy development in agriculture varies considerably by State, incentives, and energy prices.

Last changed:Jun 21 2011

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