Efficiency and sustainability. Two words that we have been hearing a lot of in the past couple of years. A quick look at Google Trends shows that these two words have followed the same interest lines throughout this year.
This same Google Trends chart shows just how unique Alberta is when it comes to where our focus and priorities are. We are the only province, outside of the very Eastern part of Canada, which has more interest in the word efficiency than we do in the word sustainability. What if we could have the best of both worlds and have efficiency and sustainability tied together, to be able to achieve both simultaneously?
With the cost share programs in place by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, this becomes entirely realistic. The first funding program that we will look at is the Farm Energy and Agri-Processing Program (FEAP). FEAP shares costs with both producers and agri-processors on energy efficient investments. The Program is designed to encourage energy management which will result in cost savings, energy conservation, and ultimately, reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Energy efficiency helps to create both economic and environmental sustainability. This program offers financial support, subject to financial constraint, to applicants who incorporate high efficiency equipment that is identified in the applicable funding list in their construction and/or retrofitting projects. With costs being shared on things such as; insulation, submeters, energy assessments and audits, lighting, heating and refrigeration equipment, ventilation, cattle waterers and more, this is a great time to start your construction project or to consider retrofitting some of your old equipment with new models that will save you money.
The other program that is well worth mentioning is the On Farm Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Program. This program provides funding towards solar photovoltaics on Alberta farms which enables producers to conserve non-renewable fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions, ultimately reducing the environmental footprint of Alberta's agriculture industry. The Solar Photovoltaics Program addresses two important industry priorities; the first is improved environmental stewardship. When producers make investments in clean energy and reduced carbon emissions, they are recognized for their commitment to sustainable practices. The second priority that this program addresses is improved energy management. Producers who install photovoltaic systems tend to take a renewed interest in their electricity usage; this leads to additional efficiency investments.
As someone with solar panels installed on my home and in use on many parts of my farm, I can honestly say that this technology is one that I would not want to be without. The funding that is available through the On Farm Solar PV Program, makes a solar installation quite a reasonable investment for your farm. When the solar install follows the guidelines set out by the program $0.75/W of costs can be shared for up to 35% of eligible expenses for systems that are below 100 kW. For systems between 100.01 kW and 150 kW the cost share is $0.56/W up to 27% of eligible expenses.
With these funding programs in place, there is no better time than now to make our farms both efficient and sustainable. There are energy outreach officers in place throughout the province to answer questions and provide information to interested producers and agri-processors.
Gateway Research Organization