By Jean-Paul MacDonald
Canada's farmlands are buzzing with a new kind of energy, and it's not just from the crops and cattle. It's the energy from the sun and wind. As we dig into recent statistics, a tale of transformation unfolds. A sizable 11.9% of Canada's farms have already incorporated renewable energy into their daily operations. And if you travel back just five years, this was true for only 5.3% of farms.
What's the reason behind this sudden bloom? Well, imagine if your electricity bills started shrinking every year. That's what happened with renewable energy solutions like solar and wind power. According to Farm Credit Canada, the past decade alone has seen solar energy prices fall dramatically, by a whopping 90%. It's no surprise then that solar energy is the favorite among farmers, with 14,587 farms choosing to harvest sunlight, a significant rise from 2016.
But it's not only about cost. Solar energy systems offer flexibility. From large dairy farms with hefty power needs to smaller crop farms with moderate energy use, there's a solar solution for everyone. In some areas, farmers even wear the dual hats of energy consumers and suppliers, producing more energy than they need and selling the surplus.
Wind energy is a popular choice for farmers because it has become much more affordable in recent years. The cost of wind energy has decreased by 70% in the past 10 years, and there are now 1,955 farms using wind energy, up from 1,597 in 2016.
However, wind energy is not always available. On cloudy or calm days, there is not enough wind to generate electricity. This is where the grid comes in. Farmers can connect their wind turbines to the grid and sell excess electricity on days when there is a lot of wind. On days when there is not enough wind, farmers can draw electricity from the grid.
So, even though wind energy is not always available, farmers can use the grid to store and share energy, making it a reliable option for powering their farms.