Earlier this week, the Department of Agriculture released a report detailing several vital measures needed to increase renewable energy consumption in rural America. Rising fuel prices over the last year have hurt farmers across the country. As fuel prices appear likely to increase, many fear potentially disastrous consequences as the costs of agricultural production continue to rise, forcing many farmers out of business.
Outside of the obvious problems of harvesting crops with diesel powered machinery, high fuel prices have made electrical energy consumption costly for many farmers, particularly small, rural farmers who do not possess their own turbines capable of providing energy to their farms. As such, rural communities and farmers would be better served by a more direct investment in renewable energy technology.
The report identified three major avenues of renewable energy research. The Great Plains have ample wind and biomass resources available. Last week, an ethanol plant specializing in the production of algae used in the creation of biofuels opened, raising optimism for the future of ethanol. Outside of the Great Plains, the East and West coasts both have great potential for wind farms, and the Southwest is ideally located for the production of solar and geothermal energy.
However, these energy sources are largely untapped. High research and investment costs frequently help stifle technological development and investment. However, as the USDA report points out, state and federal investment in these projects could be the deciding factor in the ultimate development of green energy in the agricultural section.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer