Drought conditions are a growing problem for farmers around the world. Australian farmers have been hit extremely hard over the last few years. In California, after three consecutive years of scarce rainfall, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency with another dry summer forthcoming. From Australia to China to the United States, governments and farmers are searching for some relief and a long-term solution to global water supplies that are projected to diminish even more in the future.
Solar energy represents one solution, a fix that many farmers and policy makers see as both long-term and multifaceted. Subsequently, global governments are pouring funds and resources into developing solar energy solutions for farmers. Following are some of the ways that solar power can aid drought-hit farmers.
- Energy Independence. Along with water shortages come frequent power cuts and rising fuel costs. Therefore, farmers’ struggles with drought and minimal crop production are only enhanced by unaffordable energy costs, especially in the third world where farms and communities rely on expensive diesel generators for power. Solar power offers free power for pumping available water, electricity, and more.
- Irrigation. Irrigation is a huge cost for farmers and any who cannot afford will most certainly sink. Government subsidized solar power systems are in place because they help rural farmers be self sufficient and relieve stress on the public power supply at the same time.
- Desalination. Solar desalination systems offer big promise for rural farmers, especially those in dryer regions, which may be sitting on top of potential water supplies that are difficult to harvest because of their salty nature and scarce power supply. Solar desalination could solve both problems and provide potable water for the developing world and in emergency situations.
Learn more about photovoltaic possibilities for farmers and ranchers, including resources, from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).