REACT 2008 Article Series - Article #9
Wind, Manure or Sunshine - “What’s Best for You?”
|Wind, Manure or Sunshine - “What’s Best for You?”|
Gary Koziel, Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture
With so many technologies and options for alternative energy use on the farm, it’s no wonder so few have taken the plunge and developed farm scale energy projects. It seems that everyday we are being informed of new technologies that are better than the day before. There are numerous alternatives available from aerobic/anaerobic digesters, solar hot water, solar electric, biofuels, windpower, small scale hydro, geothermal, biodiesel, etc, etc…and varying combinations of all of these. So where do you start?
First of all, take stock of your situation. Have you done everything you can to save energy? It makes no sense to build a brand new solar hot water system if you have a leaky tap or to invest in a geothermal heating system if you’re always leaving the door open. Before examining how you may be able to produce your own energy make sure you are doing your best to conserve what you’re using right now. Remember it’s never too late to close the barn door.
Do your homework. The internet is chock full of information on alternative energy, look for information on Federal and Provincial government websites. Try to access information that is close to home and look for reliable sources that don’t have a vested interest in selling you a product. Talk to your neighbors and local experts especially those who have “been there, done that!” Share your ideas with friends and neighbors and investigate how you may work together to bring costs down and share in the benefits.
Before starting any project make sure you discuss what programs and services may be available to assist. There are funding resources available from various agencies and different levels of Government that can provide assistance in all phases of the project from planning to completion. Grants, rebates and incentives are available for small to large size business as well as for residential projects. In many cases, funding applications should be completed prior to work being started so don’t miss out by moving too quickly.
Producing your own energy on a large scale is not for everyone, it takes commitment and dedication to the concept and in a lot of cases payback may be slow in coming but there are a lot of dedicated individuals who are available to assist you along the way. It takes a sharp pencil and good communication to pull together the information you need to help you make the best decision on what will work for you.
A good place to start your information gathering is at the Rural Energy Action Conference and Trade Show - REACT 2008 being held in Port Hawkesbury on November 7th and 8th, 2008. Take advantage of this opportunity to talk with the people and businesses involved in the energy industry; bring your questions and ideas and see how they may help you find out “What’s best for you”.