25 Aug Can Clean Energy Change Farming?
Written by Craig Bouchard
Aug 25 · 5 min read
The environmental benefits of solar power have been touted in the farming community for years. Solar panels, if used in new and creative ways can deliver breakthroughs impacting the future of the sector. Tinted solar panels, as an example, may boost nutrition in crops, minimize operational costs for farmers, and maximize land use. These are factors that could increase profitability, an integral issue for many local farmers.
In addition to using clean energy in food production, farmers are seeking sustainable methods of transport. A majority minority-owned entrepreneurial company founded by Johnny Then, Johanne Medina, and Craig Bouchard, Ecolution kWh, is poised to disrupt the refrigerated trailer (“Reefer”) industry. Their patented technology enables clean energy generation while the truck/trailer is in motion, a discovery that could bring significant economic and environmental advantages to farmers, and to the much deeper distribution of food and medicine globally.
Creating A Viable Environment
In the transportation sector, clean energy production is a must. For decades, diesel-fueled reefer trucks, which also burn diesel fuel stored in a second gas tank in the trailer, have dominated the food distribution industry. The carbon emissions created are one of our countries largest environmental problems. In 2015, the State of California recognized the seriousness of the issue and created a $1 billion fund to invest in solutions to the reefer emissions problem. That money has been allocated and spent. The problem continues unabated there and elsewhere.
By retrofitting refrigerated trailers with Ecolution kWh’s technology, farmers will create a floating electric grid at their disposal. The Ecolution “MARS” system can replace the gas tank and TRU Gensett refrigeration units in the trailer with a system generating more kilowatt-hours, burning no diesel fuel, and saving over 600 pounds in weight. This allows more goods to be hauled in the trailer.
Creating kinetic energy in motion, Craig Bouchard, Medina, and Then report that retrofitting trailers with this technology will generate zero-carbon emissions energy in the trailer for multiple uses. It powers needed equipment onboard or attached to a moving truck or trailer, or the energy it can be brought to a destination with swappable battery packs being used to power operations. Excess energy supplied by owned trailers could enable farmers to create a micro-grid of electricity on the farm.
Growing Better Crops
Innovative farmers are finding ways to harness energy to improve the quality of their crops. Improved nutrition leads to changing the eating behaviors of consumers. The goal is to increase quality, maximize land use, increase profits, and even allow farmers to increase self-sufficiency through energy generation. These tertiary benefits would certainly strengthen the farming industry.
Early adopters of solar technology are sometimes called Agrivoltaics, a term hinting the simultaneously use of the same landmass to harvest crops and create clean energy. Experimenting with the use of different light wavelengths, these innovative farmers are seeing preliminary positive results. Early experiments include the growth of spinach and basil. The generation of these plants under tinted solar panel conditions yielded increased protein content in both. In order to boost photosynthesis, protein is created to assist the process. Biomass production or size of crop per unit of solar power was up by roughly 60%. The ratio of leaves and stems, as related to roots, was also up roughly 60%. This equates to larger, protein-rich crops grown through the use of tinted solar panels.
Why do crops react this way when grown under tinted solar panel conditions? While the scientific answers are complex, the basic principles are elementary. Simply put, plants under these conditions can utilize light more proficiently. Plants tested under these conditions showcased an increasingly efficient photosynthetic use of light. Unlike the case for traditional farming, the plant’s energy was directed primarily above the root. With less light available for growth, plants focused on growing their own solar panels (leaves) to capture increased light on a growing surface area. Crops grown under tinted solar panels were able to capture light and direct this light in a more proficient manner than in traditional circumstances.
Generating Clean Electricity
The electricity garnered by solar panels can power infrastructure and daily operations. When applied across an entire farming eco-system, solar panels may be able to generate enough electricity to power other facets of the operation. This is good. Unlike the traditional creation of energy, solar energy does not produce pollutants. Without producing harmful emissions like carbon dioxide, solar energy is clean, renewable, and good for the environment.
Many government entities are providing incentives for commercial adaptation of solar energy. Thus, innovative farmers can benefit from these financial incentives to build solar operations. As consumer demand for transparency grows, crops grown under environmentally clean conditions can also become increasingly in-demand. This can provide another incentive for farmers to evolve their practices.
The conversation continues to grow regarding the commercial application of clean energy in transportation fleets. Thus, for farmers looking to implement Ecolution kWh technology, incentives may also exist. Across the world, many countries are adopting legislation to forward clean energy in transportation. By pivoting to EVs and energy-producing Ecolution kWh outfitted refrigerated trailers, innovative farmers can expand clean energy sources.
Diversifying Farmers’ Portfolios
Crop prices can ebb and flow, leaving many farmers with less-than-steady profit margins. Diversifying their portfolio by creating useable clean energy can offset this unsteadiness, and provide an additional source of income. The value of simultaneously produced crops and electricity can provide farmers with viable income sources to minimize risk. Farmers could sell excess energy to national or local grid systems. This will not only provide them with additional income but will also increase the availability of clean energy.
The term “agrivoltaics” is relatively new. Early adopters of the practice are leveraging the vast benefits of clean technologies to evolve their farming practices. With financial, environmental, and consumer benefits, these innovative practices are showing a myriad of potential for widespread implementation.
In the transportation sector, pioneers like Craig Bouchard, Then and Medina are creating viable paths for farmers to harness clean energy in motion. Through the application of Ecolution kWh’s technology, farmers can create a floating electric grid. These sources of clean energy can be used to power EVs and equipment, or even sold as another means of income.
These innovations could impact the farming industry on a large scale. They can also demonstrate an industry committed to sustainability, environmental impact, and evolution. Clean energy technology and innovation propel the farming industry into a very bright future.