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2014-09-04

Consider the benefits of solar energy for ag use

Contributed

Larry Stark, District Conservationist with the Bandera Soil & Water Conservation District #229 (SWCD) suggests that ag users consider using solar power.
As reported in the district's monthly newletter, throughout the United States, people are showing increased interest in capturing the sun's energy for their farm operations, homes, and businesses. These systems allow the user to produce their own electricity and heat water with no noise and no air pollution while using a clean, renewable resource - the sun.
A well-designed solar energy system needs clear and unobstructed access to the sun's rays for most or all of the day, throughout the year. Most farms and ranches have rooftops or open, sunny locations that are well suited to solar energy, and the property can make an initial assessment.
If the location looks promising, a reputable solar installer or equipment dealer can determine whether the home or business can effectively use a solar energy system. The orientation (the compass direction that the system faces) of the system affects its performance.
What is a solar electric, or photovoltaic, system? Photovoltaic (PV) systems convert sunlight directly to electricity. They work any time the sun is shining, but more electricity is produced when the sunlight is more intense and strikes the PV modules directly (as when rays of sunlight are perpendicular to the PV modules).
Unlike solar thermal systems for heating water, PV does not use the sun's heat to make electricity. Instead, electrons freed by the interaction of sunlight with semiconductor materials in PV cells are captured in an electric current. PV allows the production of electricity - without noise or air pollution - from a clean, renewable resource. A PV system never runs out of fuel, and it won't increase US oil imports.
Many PV system components are manufactured right here in the United States. These characteristics could make PV technology the US energy source of choice for the 21st century.
Check out: www.attra.ncat.org or www.renewableenergyaccess.com.
The SWCD offices are at Mansfield Park. Board meetings are held on the second Thursday of every month at 9 am and are open to the public.