There are many industrial uses for solar thermal technology, and one of the most cost-effective solar hot water applications is the dairy farm.
Dairy farms are often located in rural areas where gas lines don’t reach. As a result, all of their hot water needs are generated by regular deliveries of expensive propane gas or electricity.
Hot water and thermal heating energy are integral to dairy farms; not a day goes by when they aren’t used, requiring a constant supply of propane. Hot water is used to clean and sanitize the industrial milk containers, while thermal energy is used for heating milk to 100 degrees for feeding calves. Thermal energy is also used for the pasteurization process of milk, cheese, and other dairy products.
Until recently, propane was the only viable solution for a dairy farm’s thermal energy needs. Today, solar thermal makes the most economic sense, especially considering the available grants, rebates, and incentives.
The two examples below show how solar thermal can not only reduce carbon emissions, but also can significantly reduce their propane energy bills. The ROI can be between 2 and 5 years, depending on the system’s engineering, the project size, and the technology used.
The two video examples are from Idaho, but they could be applicable to any state. While local incentives vary by state, all for-profit farms in the U.S. are eligible to receive 30% off the cost via a Federal Income Tax Credit for solar installations.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture also provides a grant for 25% of the system’s cost through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
There are also other tax incentives, such as accelerated depreciation of the solar asset. Of course, any solar installation adds to a farmer’s wholesome reputation and sustainability credentials, an increasingly important factor for consumer choices.
But the bottom line… is the bottom line: Solar thermal can farmers money off their propane heating costs.
Free Hot Water can design and engineer a solar thermal system for any agricultural application, including dairies. Contact us for any questions.