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Solar Energy

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Solar Panels, NCAT photo Solar energy — the energy source for growing crops — is also useful for heating air or water and for generating electricity.

Simple "passive solar design" techniques reduce the need for mechanical heating and cooling. For example, south-facing windows and the use of heat-absorbing tile, concrete flooring, or other "thermal mass" can keep buildings warmer. Carefully designed awnings and landscaping can keep buildings cooler in hot weather.

Sunlight can also be used to heat water for home or agricultural uses, including applications in greenhouses and radiant floor heating.

The term "photovoltaics" (abbreviated "PV") refers to the use of solar energy to generate electricity. Farmers and ranchers are using photovoltaics to pump water, power lighting, charge electric fences, and run all sorts of appliances at locations far from the power grid.

The publications and links below explain how solar energy can benefit your farm, ranch or rural business.

NOTE: Some of the following documents are available as Adobe Acrobat PDFs. Download Acrobat Reader.

ATTRA Publications

Food Dehydration Options - IP147

PDF Price: $.95 for non-members

 • Summary • Buy PDF  • Buy Print Copy
Freeze Protection for Livestock Watering Systems - IP215


 • Summary • Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy  • View Now
Renewable Energy Opportunities on the Farm - IP304


 • Summary • Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy  • View Now
Solar Greenhouses - IP142


 • Summary • View Now
Solar-Powered Livestock Watering Systems - IP217

PDF Price: $1.99 for non-members
Kindle Price: $1.99

 • Summary • Buy PDF  • Buy Kindle • Buy Print Copy


See It On The Farm

Solar Water Pumping: A Do-it-yourself Example
Solar Electric for Poultry Houses

Success Stories

Carolina Dairies See Fast Payback from Solar Water Systems
Solar Water Pumping Systems Economically Competitive, According to Study
Wyoming Ranchers Install Solar-Powered Water Livestock Pumps

Solar Energy Links

Agricultural Applications of Solar Energy
This U.S. Department of Energy publication explains agricultural uses of solar power, including crop drying, space/water heating, greenhouse heating, electric production and water pumping.
American Solar Energy Society
News articles, event notices, and 'Solar Guide', an introduction to solar energy.
An Introduction to Solar Energy Applications for Agriculture
This publication by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority includes information on space and water heating, greenhouse heating and solar electric (photovoltaic) systems. [PDF/1.1M]
Build It Solar
Free plans, tools and information for renewable energy and conservation projects. "The Renewable Energy Site for Do-It-Yourselfers.'s Solar Energy Resources
The Environmental Law and Policy Center provides this web page on farm applications of solar energy, including case studies and information on solar energy technologies, financial incentives, and related news.
Montana Green Power: Solar in Agriculture
Information on water pumping, financing, and links to related news articles.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Solar Resources for Farmers and Ranchers
General resources, tools, workshop notices, and financing assistance.
New York Solar Energy Industry Association
Solar Electric Power Association
SEPA's mission is to facilitate the use and integration of solar electric power by utilities, electric service providers, and their customers.
Solar Energy Industries Association
News, explanations of solar energy technologies, online resources, and publications, including a guide to solar energy-related federal tax incentives.
Solar Water Pump Systems for Livestock Watering
A report written by the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service
Solar energy news developments worldwide, including current prices, ongoing projects, and news articles. The site also offers industry statistics and advice on purchasing solar energy systems.
U.S. Department of Energy/EERE: Net Metering Policies
Explains net metering policies and provides several relevant links.
Up with the Sun: Solar Energy and Agriculture
This Union of Concerned Scientists website includes explanations of solar energy for crop drying, greenhouses, and electricity generation.


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This page was last updated on: January 16, 2015