Farms and other agricultural based businesses are confronted daily with a multitude of various tasks, and those tasks that are most needed to keep production going tend to get the most attention. Unfortunately, in many cases, energy use is overlooked as long as all the farm equipment is in working order. However, energy usage is one of the easiest costs that the farm can control and it can be the best way to see immediate benefits to the bottom line by utilizing energy efficiency, energy management, and energy generation measures. SBE helps farmers think of their energy usage much like any other commodity, in turn minimizing energy costs,and thus freeing up capital for ongoing operations or expansion.
In addition, SBE understands the challenges that farms face in financing energy projects, which is why SBE helps operations capitalize on grants, incentives, rebates, and appropriate debt structure to increase their operational efficiency and realize the energy assets of each farm. The cost to implement energy efficiency measures is significantly offset by incentives from federal and state government and the local utility. When it’s all said and done, energy conservation measures typically have a fast return
on investment (3-7 years in many circumstances), making them prime opportunities for quick action.
For those operations that want to lead in their sector, SBE recommends implementing Strategic Energy Management Planning (SEMP). Farm SEMP is an industry known and verified method of continually improving the energy management on the farm. It is a long term planning process that focuses both on capital improvements, but also on improving process efficiencies, reducing behavioral related waste, and continuing to monitor progress so the gains realized at the beginning are maintained year over year.
The biggest energy use for most dairies is in the heating and cooling of milk (in excess of 50% of the energy load), followed by vacuum pumps, lighting, and other pumps / compressors / and mechanical equipment. The milk cooling process requires that roughly 50 Btus of heat per pound of milk be removed - for an average cow that can amount to 3,000 Btu per day and 1.1 MBtu per year. Research has found that energy use per cow could be as low as 682,000 Btu per year yet most dairies are operating in excess of 1 MBtu per year.