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Last updated: 2024, May 25


Energy farming - renewable energy sources in agricultural business and aquaculture




Dr. Oleksii Orlov,

Msc, PhD


About how a farmer or agro-industrialist can obtain energy for own needs, ensure running of business without risks for crops and food production and for grain terminals and production facilities and for sale of energy


Even with the sharp drop in oil and gas prices observed in 2020, the profitability of using green energy is 2-3 times higher! Moreover, if each farmer uses his own capacities for energy production, this will destroy the monopolism and corruption of large corporations, which is very good for the economy!



See also:


In a situation where electricity are growing in price rapidly, and every month more and more significant energy bills coming, even the change of ordinary bulbs to LEDs at the enterprise can save a significant amount and reduce the size of bills. Not to mention the construction of its own power plant. In the photo - a powerful power station in the desert of Morocco, with a capacity of 22 MW, in 2018 the capacity reached 522 MW!



The second factor, which is now actively stimulating the construction of its own capacities for generating electricity and thermal energy, is the constant blackout of electricity in the harvesting season and gas in the winter. All rural residents will probably agree with this. In many rural areas around the World are power outages and if the power goes off, all the cars stop, the engines turn off, the mobile phone connection disappears, the computers go out and the water pumps turn off. There is no electricity, there is no life...


Solar station near the Dnieper, Ukraine. The lands on which this station was built are not suitable for farming, it is continuous sand and swamp. These lands were empty and no one ever tried to create and build anything on these lands in the entire history. Now this station gives a very good profit to its owners (photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov)



Therefore, the availability of own heating capacities and possibilities for generating electricity is very important in terms of energy security for businesses and heating their families in winter. Previously, rural residents faced such blackouts very rarely, but now it is a common thing.

Also now, the state, thanks to the support of funds from the EU, is compensating for a part of capital expenditures to increase energy efficiency. Plus, the green tariff works for producers of green electricity.

Often, electricity from one’s own power plant can be sold at a “green tariff” rather than used for own needs, as it is more expensive for own consumption. It is more profitable to sell, rather than consume for your own business and lighting needs. If it is possible to build a solar or wind power plant, then thanks to the "green" electricity tariffs for agricultural companies, it will be more profitable to supply such energy to the network, and to consume energy from traditional sources for own needs.

A big advantage of solar power plants is that they can be built on land unsuitable for any other business, such as in the desert



Not only in Europe, but throughout the World, green energy is developing at a rapid pace, for example, in the UK the number of people employed in the field of solar energy has already exceeded the number of workers in the oil and gas industry. This market will develop at an active pace, as evidenced by the experience of the EU, where traditional sources of electricity based on the combustion of coal and gas are already uncompetitive.



Solar power

The sun is a universal and constant and the most affordable source of energy. In rural areas, separate power plants are often built, and houses and farms are equipped with solar panels.


Now it is quite possible to build a house, office or farm that will fully provide itself with energy and at the expense of renewable / "green" sources. In the photo - a farm equipped with solar panels (Source:



Also, solar cells can be placed on the roofs of greenhouses - especially in the southern regions, where such panels have a dual function - generating energy and creating the necessary shading for plants.


Greenhouses equipped with solar panels (KUBO) are no secret to anyone



In agriculture, solar panels can be using in any place; now even barges that transport grain along the river are equipped with solar panels. There are also flexible panels with which you can cover the silos of the elevators from the south side and receive energy.


Solar energy is widely used in hard-to-reach areas and where there are interruptions with centralized energy supply.


A solar power station built in Ukraine to provide energy to grain terminal as well as to profit from the sale of electricity at the "green" tariff. Power 1.3 MW, stationary photocell mount systems



Solar panels using for energy supply of water pumps and electric shepherds and electric hedges on pastures and for industrial purposes or for irrigation.



A small solar station that feeds a solar-powered pump that pumps water for people or animals  to pasture on sunny days



To provide energy to a large enterprise, it is better to use a combination of a solar or wind power station with industrial storage batteries, which will provide power supply, even in the absence of receipt of the required amounts of energy from the network and from solar panels (at night and in bad weather) or wind generators (in calm weather).


Tesla storage batteries have a capacity of 10 kW / h (Powerwall on the right), they can be combined into blocks for industrial purposes and they can be paired with solar panels or wind generators or in the absence of their own generators according to the charging scheme every night at the lowest possible tariff and using battery power the rest of the day. Left - Powerpack industrial storage batteries (Source: Tesla)





Of great importance it is the possibility of obtaining additional income from a solar power plant.


In order to prevent the land under the solar power plant from overgrowing grass, you can run sheep or geese on its territory, which will pluck grass, and thus, the need for financial costs to remove vegetation disappears and you can get additional profit from growing livestock. Also, experiments are being carried out to create "two-tier systems": the 1st tier - crops production, the 2nd, upper tier - solar panels


The efficiency and quality of the panels (for example, good solar modules, have an efficiency of about 14-25%), the use of panels that are not damaged by hail (shockproof), such an angle of inclination and design that prevents snow accumulation are also of great importance.


Cold climate and snow in winter is not a problem for a solar power plant. With the right design, snow rolls off the solar modules and does not interfere with operation. Even in cold climates, solar modules with high efficiency will be profitable for a long time. Such power plants are being built even in Canada and Norway. So a cold climate is not a problem


There are solar panels with a transparent inner side, allowing the accumulation of reflected light and other effective solar energy innovations.

It is also quite inexpensive and efficient to supply conventional solar collectors to provide hot water; there are special models with antifreeze that provide hot water even in cold weather.


Solar collectors, which are used to produce hot water, are even a much more common option than solar panels. Such collectors can be used to provide office, farm or grain terminal  of hot water. There are models that work even in winter (photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov)



Use of electric machines

Electric machines are the future of agriculture, but unfortunately, in most cases now everything is limited only to concepts due to the low productivity of such machines. The main limiting factor is battery capacity. But all the advantages can be seen right away - the tractor was charged under a solar sunshade right on the farm and go running to work in the field - very convenient.



Special canopies for charging cars, also with the help of such sunshades you can charge Tesla industrial lithium batteries and various electric cars



On the left is the Fendt X-Concept 130 kW electric tractor introduced in 2013 at the Agritechnica in Hanover. Also, electric loaders are now widely represented on the market. On the right is the electric Land Rover Defender (Electric Defender Research Vehicle), its potential is impressive - with a fully charged battery, it can move slowly off-road until 8:00 in a row :-) Such a machine copes with obstacles even better than a conventional car due to high torque electric motor at very low speeds, i.e. when crawling



One of the great solutions for farmers, agrarian business and consulting is the use of electric pickups. By photo - Tesla Cybertruck pickup that connimg soon! (Source: Tesla)





Wind energy

This is another method of generating electricity. Many EU farmers invest in this type of energy and place windmills on their land.



The great advantage of wind farms is that they can be built at sea and other places unsuitable for any other business



Wind farms are widely used by farmers in Germany, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands and other EU countries. Especially, it is beneficial if the farm lands are located on the coast or in the zone of constant strong winds. Compared to solar power plants, wind farms are more technologically sophisticated and more expensive facilities. But they give more energy and more income, including at night and do not occupy a large area, like solar power plants - this is especially true for areas where the high cost of land. Modern installations have a capacity of up to 7 MW, a wind generator of 10 MW can be purchased, and installations with a capacity of up to 15-20 MW are being developed. For new wind energy parks, the power of one installation of 6-7 MW is optimal (Source: Siemens)



Biomass energy

Theoretically, energy can be obtained from any plant-based dry raw material: pellets, chopped straw and wood, etc. The determining factor here is that the raw material must be chopped and dry so that it can be automatically fed to the heat generator. By burning biomass, it is possible to produce electricity and heat. Heat can be used to dry grain, including on an industrial scale, even at large elevators and oil extraction plants.


Biomass is a good source of heat and energy. One kilogram of biomass (pellets or wood chips), in terms of calorific value / energy capacity, corresponds to approximately 1 m3 of natural gas. Even preliminary calculations show that heating with resources such as pellets or wood chips will be a much more profitable solution than heating with gas. On the left photo - pellets from sunflower husk, on the right - chips from energy willow (photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov)





This is a good source of heat and energy, in terms of its characteristics, practically does not differ in any way from natural gas. Especially for agricultural enterprises that are involved in animal husbandry, there are double benefits, and concern for the environment and the complete utilization of waste for profit obtaining. Roughly speaking - "money from manure" :-)


Biogas station at a dairy farm in the Chernihiv region, Ukraine. When planning the production of energy from manure, biomass and other waste using a biogas plant, it is especially good to approach investment planning - manure should not remain on the farm. And you need to applicate manure as fertilizer only into the soil with immediate incorporation. Engineering decisions should also be well thought out during the planning phase of the farm. It is especially important to take into account the need to insulate the entire manure transport system and the biogas plant itself for cold climates (photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov)




Other ways of generating energy in agribusiness and methods for saving it:

  • water energy

  • geothermal energy

  • heat pumps

  • polyurethane insulation and thermal insulation of buildings, grain dryers, elevators, communications

  • energy efficiency of machinery and equipment

  • LED lighting


Recently, prices of LED have dropped significantly. That allows you to buy them for any farmer. With today's electricity and LED prices, investment in LED lighting pays off in 2-3 months. It should only be taken into account that they are more sensitive to voltage surges, therefore a guarantee for LEDs, protection against voltage surges, grounding, backup systems and lightning protection systems are mandatory. Changing ordinary bulbs to LEDs - halves the bill for lighting in the very first month



Green energy in aquaculture

In modern conditions, solar energy is widely used in aquaculture and in irrigation (for example, to feed pumps that supply water to reservoirs and provide energy for compressors that aerate (saturate) oxygen with water. More often they use wind and water energy (especially on trout farms that are fueled by water from mountain streams).

But there are cases when floating solar power plants are also used on lakes. In this case, water productivity may decrease as solar panels take away some of the light needed by algae and phytoplankton.

Often, solar panels are placed on on the roofs of stationary  water farms or RAS farms where fish are grown in water tanks - in this case, this is a very good solution that reduces risks and gives additional profit.


Sources of energy in aquaculture. For aquaculture, the use of green energy is very important, since so many farms are far from power lines and often the cost of creating your own “green” power plant will be significantly less than the cost of connecting traditional electricity. On the left is a water power plant in China. At the same time, solar panels are placed on high supports, so more light enters the surface of the water than when placing panels on pontoons. On the right is a water pump with a solar panel, which is used at a water farm in Kenya



Conclusions - when people abandon the "old" technologies in favor of new ones, this marks significant advantages for civilization as a whole. This time we have a transition from gas and oil to more advanced sources of energy. Any farmer or agro-industrialist should think about energy independence, the possibility of earning money from investing in green energy and using the green tariff, or just buy yourself a more energy-efficient tractor and save a significant amount of fuel.



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