Solar electric energy systems, or photovoltaics, can supply power for any number of remote agricultural applications, including pumping and electric fencing. Photovoltaics can also be used to generate electricity for lighting buildings or operating equipment and appliances. There are several options for solar electric systems. They can be designed to tie into the power grid as utilities allow, feeding any excess power back into the grid to run the meter backwards, and drawing power from the grid when they aren’t generating.
At remote sites, photovoltaics team with storage batteries to provide a reliable power supply at any time. The solar panels can be mounted on a building rooftop that provides the right aspect and angle, or mounted in a freestanding array. Solar shingles on a barn. One recent development in solar panel technology may be especially relevant to agricultural buildings. Manufacturers are now offering several roofing products that combine roofing material and photovoltaic electricity-generating capacity in a single unit.
Solar Hot Water
Solar water-heating systems range from the simple and homemade to the complex and expensive. Generally they serve to preheat water before it reaches a conventional water heater, minimizing the energy that the water heater then uses to boost the water to its final temperature. In some climates and seasons, the solar water heater may bring the water to full temperature without supplementary heating. The use of most solar water-heating systems is seasonal in cold climates, where systems must be drained during winter to prevent water in the system from freezing.
More complex systems that heat an anti-freeze liquid and then transfer that heat to water inside a heated space can be used throughout the year. For seasonally occupied or warm-climate agricultural buildings, even a simple solar hot-water system can offer energy savings at minimal cost.