Solar Energy : A new way of thinking?

Farmers across Alberta may be looking towards a new way to reduce carbon emissions, and eventually decrease that ever-growing power bill, with the use of solar energy.

There are only a few solar farms currently in the province.

Cory Nelson, a farmer south-west of Burdett, Alberta, which was the first in Southern Alberta to sign on to the new program.

Nelson’s intended use of the solar energy will go towards one of his irrigation section machines, and one half section machine.

The goal of this project is to produce enough power in the winter to cover what the pivots use in the summer.

The payback for a project like Nelson’s is about 15 years, and although it is a long-term investment,  he says other projects have lasted upward of 30 years, so he is hopeful of many years of profitability.

Nelson’s solar panels will be in a dry corner that typically isn’t seeded with any crops, so the project won’t be using any extra land.

With technology and where it is headed, Nelson says he is amazed by where it has brought us.

“Seven years ago this project wouldn’t have been possible,” says Nelson.

As a plus, the Alberta government has put a new initiative out for farmer’s to “go green” with the On Farm Solar Management Growing Forward 2 project.

The project provides extra funding for any farmers that are looking into solar energy, with a total of $500,000 in provincial and federal funding towards solar energy systems on Alberta farms.

If profit and a reduced carbon footprint isn’t already enough of a plus, these types of solar projects could create jobs in the project design and construction sectors.

Nelson says he knows that the company they are already working with has hired six new people.

“In the current economic state the province is in, it will create new ways for revenue to be generated in the province. This is just because of the two are three projects that are getting on imagine if this picks up.”

Nelson hopes that once built on his land along Highway 3, people will stop by and check it out, and hopefully the ripple effect will cause other farmers to decide to sign on to this new project as well.