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.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Visual Heritage - a different take on wind projects

We were in Collingwood over the weekend taking advantage of the last days of skiing with friends who are both landscape architects. I had a very interesting conversation with one of my friends on wind projects and an aspect I had not considered. The aspect of visual heritage.

Visual heritage is how an area looks traditionally and the related value of that "look". Niagara Falls is an obvious example of the value generated from the look of an area. Rural areas engaged in farming also have value due to the look of the crops growing - people enjoy the view and are attracted because of it.

Considering this - how is this visual asset or heritage affected by wind turbines?

What is your opinion?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Concerns over Wind Turbines in Belwood

I was talking to friend of mine who has a pork finishing operation just outside of Fergus. Her and her husband also hold off-farm jobs, and are very involved and informed members of their community. She asked me what I thought of the proposed wind-turbine project that will be in her neck of the woods. She heard they will be twice as high and spread out farther than the wind turbines at Shelburne, Ontario. She has also felt and heard much concern and anxiety from friends and neighbours. Now she is also concerned.

What do I think...that perception is the most important thing, making community leadership or at the very least community partnership an upfront requirement for a successful project.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Biodiesel on Farm Cost of Production Template

I came across a cost of production spreadsheet for on-farm biodiesel production that maybe of use. I saw it in action using a 350 acre, 70 cow dairy farm as an example and it lays out potential costs well - giving a very good starting point to investigate potential costs and income for a biodiesel enterprise. The spreadsheets can be accessed through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) at www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/bio_cop.htm

You can select a spreadsheet that matches the feedstock you are interested in using, such as waste oils, mechanically crushed soybean oil or mechanically crushed canola oil.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Community Collaborations in Wind Energy - A Case in Point - Dalhousie Mountain Wind Project

I've been seeing alot of negative press on wind energy of late. As a proponent of renewable energy and the potential opportunities for farmers, this concerns me.

I came across a project that seems to have this all worked out - it is called the Dalhousie Mountain Wind Project located in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. They worked hard to involve the community, NS Power, government and local business to make this a success in short order. I couldn't find a web-site but there is lots of information on Google related to this project if you are interested.

What do you think of wind turbines - would you like one on your farm or in your community?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SOBIN - Southwestern Ontario Bioproducts Innovation Network

This is a cool organization - it works closely with the agricultural, chemical and automotive industries in Southwestern Ontario to support development of environmentally friendly, sustainable products that enhance the local economy.

SOBIN are also leading the development of the Centre for Agricultural Renewable Energy and Sustainability (CARES for you acronym lovers) at the Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph - this is a demonstration centre for on-farm renewable energy technologies.

The amount of activity that is occuring in renewable and sustainable energies and industries can be overwhelming - but also invigorating as agriculture in particular leads the way as a provider of sustainable energy as well as other products that support our lifestyle and the environment.

Do you have an organization that you think is working for future agricultural business opportunities in conservation and renewable energy - please share.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Not again with the fresh eyes...

One thing I hope to accomplish is to bring fresh perspective through my blogs. It is also what I hope to hear from research into renewable energy.

Often what I do hear fits more traditional ways of thinking -which surprised me at first considering renewable energy is an emerging industry. But the reality is that it takes lots of money to fund this research and the organizations that have money are well established and are conducting the research or are a funding partner for research, whatever the case they have considerable influence. The output is often something that supports their current business - which makes perfect sense.

That being said I think that a paradigm shift in R&D is required to develop sustainable solutions that support our society and the environment.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Conservation Makes Dollars and Sense

This is a message that I repeat often as I think it is very powerful -

The estimated energy consumption by Ontario Farmers in 2008 -

Heat $275,000,000
Power $165,000,000
Total $440,000,000

The experts say that 15% reduction in energy consumption is very doable - and a $66,000,000/year opportunity for Ontario farmers alone! For an energy producer it means savings and more energy to sell.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Growing the Margins - Still time to Register

I am heading to London to attend the 4th Annual Growing the Margins Conference for sustainable energy and a green economy focusing on farmers and food processors. It is next Wednesday and Thursday and includes exhibition and workshops, etc. This is my third year in attendance and I've found the program valuable each year.

This year I'm interested in learning more about:
  • solar installations
  • feed-in-tariff system
  • energy efficiency
  • conservation business opportunities
  • trends and projections
  • project financing

for more information see http://www.gtmconference.ca/

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Is New Thinking Required for Ethanol?

I've had a connection to ethanol for almost twenty years now, starting in the chemical industry when I was managing a solvent portfolio for a large national distributor. Even then I questioned the benefit to farmers. At that time we could not use corn based ethanol for chemical applications as the spec did not match the purity of petroleum based ethanol.

Although that may have changed - I still question whether ethanol is a good potential market for farmers, due to the fact that petroleum producers seem to be leading development. Do they have the motivation to find solutions for sustainable fuels and the environment when much of their business revolves around traditional petroleum production?

What do you think?