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Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Integrated Science and Technology
This project explores whether the Shenandoah Valley can achieve its 25x.25 (25% from renewable energies by 2025) goals on farms in the agricultural sector. Solar photovoltaic electric power production was assessed to be the most feasible renewable energy technology for such farms. After a review of the barriers to the adoption of renewable energy by agricultural operations, estimations of the potential rates of adoption and energy output using US data from the US Census of Agriculture were calculated. Multiple scenarios were explored, including the ¡°maximum theoretical¡± contribution of renewable energy to the agricultural sector as well as scenarios of farm behavior under different constraints. It was found that although it is technically feasible to get the Valley agriculture sector to 25x.25 with all farms implementing a 10 KW solar photovoltaic (PV) system, achieving the 25x.25 goal is unlikely in the current benefit cost environment of solar photovoltaics for farmers. In addition to issues about the affordability of the initial purchase and installation costs for the PV systems, the payback period for solar PV technology in the Shenandoah Valley typically exceeds 30 years, well beyond the agricultural sector.s preferred payback period for comparable investments of 3-5 years or less and well beyond the useful life of the equipment.
Kossey, Laura, "A technology assessment of on-farm renewable energy carbon mitigation strategies" (2011). Masters Theses. 256.