As the summer months approach, most of the western US and other parts of the nation are in drought conditions. This is especially true across the American South and West, where record low rainfall has contributed to major drought concerns. And in Oregon, nearly the entire state is enduring difficult drought conditions.
As Oregonians face the worst drought conditions in years, let’s take a look at how solar helps fight drought and bring relief to many Oregon farmers, businesses, and homeowners.
SOLAR POWERS WATER PUMPS DURING DROUGHT
Oregon is one of the most prosperous agricultural regions in the United States. So when drought hits, farmers are hit the hardest.
To deal with the lack of water, many farmers turn to irrigation pumps to water their crops and livestock. Many farmers already water their crops on a normal basis, but drought conditions kick watering into overdrive.
Moving water isn’t cheap or easy. To power the irrigation pumps that drive these watering systems requires a lot of energy. This energy consumption adds up to huge costs for farmers.
To combat these huge energy costs while also ensuring the health of their crops and livestock, many Oregon farmers have turned to solar power to reduce their costs.
By installing solar panels, farmers can produce their own electricity and greatly reduce the amount of energy they receive from the utility company. These energy savings can help boost the farmers’ profits. Or, if the drought damages their crops or kills livestock, solar can help reduce the cost of their losses.
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SOLAR PANELS SHADE CROPS & LIVESTOCK
Not only can solar energy power irrigation pumps during a drought, solar panels can also act as shading for crops and livestock.
During drought, intense heat and sunlight can stress both crops and livestock. This can decrease crop yields, as well as sicken or kill animals. To combat these potentially catastrophic impacts, some farmers are turning to solar canopies and a concept called agrivoltaics.
Solar canopies are solar panels that are mounted on raised racking. The solar panels can be installed at various heights depending on clearance needs for crops or livestock. The shade from these solar panels can protect crops from burning in the sun and decreasing soil moisture, as well as reduce heat stress on livestock.
Studies have shown that these solar canopies have several benefits for crops, including preventing damage to foliage and fruit, increasing yields, increasing soil moisture, and promoting pollinator activity.
Also, studies have shown that solar canopies can help livestock as well. Solar panels can shade livestock, protecting them from the sun and preventing heat stress. These solar canopies can also help promote plant growth, which could help feed livestock in times of drought.
SOLAR PANELS SHADE CANALS & RESERVOIRS
Irrigation canals are long, man-made waterways that divert water from rivers, lakes, or reservoirs. These canals are particularly susceptible during drought conditions. Because they do not collect much water along their route, irrigation canals are slowly depleted through field irrigation and evaporation.
By covering irrigation canals with solar panels, much of the evaporation of irrigation water can be avoided. This means more water can be transported farther distances along the canal. During drought, this is a crucial benefit, especially for farms and municipalities farther down the canal.
Solar panels can also have the same advantages on reservoirs. So-called “floatovoltaics” are solar panel arrays built to float on ponds, lakes, and reservoirs. By covering the water’s surface, solar panels can prevent evaporation and help ensure water security during drought.
Covering irrigation canals and reservoirs with solar panels can also improve solar efficiency. Because the water below the solar panels is cool, it provides a cooler environment for the solar panels. Solar panels work best at lower temperatures, so canals and reservoirs can also improve solar production, while also avoiding the need to take up precious land area for solar installations.
CAN SOLAR HELP YOU DURING DROUGHT?
As drought conditions continue to hurt the American West and Oregon specifically, the benefits of solar are beginning to help many farms, businesses, and homeowners.
If you are struggling with the impacts of drought, whether it be the prices of power irrigation pumps, protecting crops and ensuring the health of livestock, solar can help.
To learn more about how solar energy can help you during drought, contact Green Ridge Solar today. Our local solar experts can help find a solution that works for you, and provide several options to help you fight the impacts of drought.
To get your free solar analysis, contact Green Ridge Solar today.