U.S. Farms Embracing Solar Power

America’s farmers have seen the potential of potential of renewable energy to reduce their operating costs and over the last decade, solar power systems, wind turbines and methane digesters have become an increasingly common site in rural USA.
In the first ever nationwide survey of renewable energy practices on American’s farms and ranches, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that by the end of 2009 there were over 8,500 farms generating some form of renewable energy.
Solar farms were the most prominent form of green electricity generation, both solar panel and solar thermal based; with close to 8,000 farms implementing the technology. Over 1,400 operations were using wind turbines and 121, methane digesters.
The state with the most farm based renewable energy production was California, accounting for nearly 2,000 operations. Other states showing substantial uptake included Texas, Hawai’i and Colorado.
The use of renewable energy on farms was by no means just about reducing carbon emissions – there have been major financial benefits for farmers. Farm operations in New York participating in the survey reported electricity bill savings in excess of $5,000 in 2009. 
U.S. farmers aren’t the only ones showing an interest in renewable energy. A survey of U.K. farmers last year showed 80% were interested in installing rooftop solar farms to help power their operations and to create an additional revenue stream. Farmers in Australia have also been increasingly installing solar energy to reduce their costs and through feed in tariff schemes in various states, generate additional farm income.
The full USDA 2009 On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey report can be viewed here.