Extending information,resources and links on renewable energy and energy conservation for Canadian farmers, agri-business and those who support them in order to enhance their ability to make sound and successful business decisions.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Small or Big Wind - How to decide?

I am in awe of wind power. I travel through Shelburne, Ontario periodically and the wind farm north of the town always takes my breath away. Although I'm interested in the large turbines, I see small wind as more of an opportunity. Our local Walmart has a small wind turbine that produces enough energy to light the store. I visited this week in silent support of their wind initiative as I prefer to shop elsewhere. While I shopped I came up with a list of things that I would consider in order to make decisions on wind energy:

Does it fit in my business?
What kind of equipment do I need?
How much does it cost?
What is the payback in my area? And more...

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is one resource available to assist. See www.smallwindeenrgy.ca/en/SmallWind.html

The "acid test" was particularly interesting - it is a calculator that looks up wind performance and electricity rates in your area and examines performance of differenct sizes of turbines.

Do you have resources to share?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ten Reasons to have a Farm Energy Business Plan

I'm an advocate for formal planning. I wouldn't say I'm good at it, or that it comes naturally - but I sure appreciate the benefits of having one. Here's a few benefits of having an energy plan:

1. Sets benchmarks to determine success
2. Gets all stakeholders on the same page
3. Connects the dots to help determine impact to enterprises & total business
4. Helps to clarify vision
5. Acts as a guide to determine budgets, timelines and milestones
6. Helps to determine when project is off-track
7. Saves time as some activities have long lead-times &/or could be done simultaneously
8. Provides flexibility as plans can change
9. Provides greater control
10. Gives peace of mind...

and so much more. Speaking of more - see www.farmenergyonline.com for more on renewable energy business planning.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The $66,000,000 opportunity in Ontario Agriculture

Here is an opportunity that bears repeating. If Ontario agriculture reduced energy consumption by 15% (which the experts say is very doable) a savings of $66,000,000 would be generated.

Estimated Energy Consumption by Ontario Agriculture -
(The numbers are huge!)
Heat $275,000,000
Power $165,000,000

Total $440,000,000

Here are some of the top energy reduction opportunities:
1. Creep heat pads
2. Creep heat controls
3. Variable Frequency Drive on large motors with variable loads (vacuume pumps, storage fans)
4. Photocell control for barns with natural light
5. Dual ventilation
6. Exhaust and re-circulating fans (NRCan standard)
7. Plate pre-coolers, heat reclaim and condensing boilers for hot water heating, dairy
8. Lighting
9. Controls and Settings
10. Stand-by generator block heater thermostat
11. Seal leakage
12. Insulation

Source: Ron MacDonald, www.agrivo.com

Do you know anymore?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Exciting Energy Research and Analysis on Biomass

A pet peeve of mine is the value lost when project funding ends. So I was keen to see an organization working hard to expand on the value created by doing research projects through a series of information sessions highlighting biomass research called the Research 2 Receptor Series. Presenting organizations included Ontario Power Generation, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, University of Guelph, The George Morris Centre and several others. It was well attended with reps from organizations that can contribute to the successful evolution of biomass as an energy source and a business opportunity in Ontario.

It is not without it's challenges including:
  • agronomics
  • logistics
  • policy and regulations
  • pricing mechanisms
  • competitive land uses (i.e. food production)
  • existing energy generation infrastructure and more

It sounds overwhelming, but I was pleasantly surprise at the positive attitude and approach, stay tuned for more and perhaps you would like to contribute your ideas on biomass...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why blog on conservation and renewable energy?

Why a blog on conservation and renewable energy? Over the past 3 years we have reviewed programs, done the analysis, networked with industry, attended conferences and meetings, read the research, produced a website...and though all this have seen the need to actively connect with Canadian farmers on the business of conservation and renewable energy. In future blogs you can expect to see:

  • news from home and abroad

  • program and resource information and analysis

  • conference and meeting coverage

  • opportunities and ideas exposed and

  • reports on "lessons learned" from other farmers

We will present the highlights and let you decided if you wish to take it further.