Sunny Money

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Image courtesy of Essex Solar Solutions

As a student who’s on a budget, I have learned to master the art of saving money and reducing costs. Frequenting used book stores, buying half price movie tickets, and hoarding grocery store coupons are all ways of saving a few bucks here and there.  But how about saving money on a large scale while also saving the planet? Well, in the Greenbelt, farmers have been given a way to do both. Green Energy is becoming all the rage. 

The Greenbelt Green Energy Program for Agriculture, which was funded through the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, has been a huge success on farms all over the Greenbelt and has grabbed the attention of media across Canada.  A big outcome of this project has been the use of solar energy to significantly reduce farmers’ use and cost of natural gas.  So how does it work you ask? Well, solar panels are installed on barns or in fields to catch and generate solar energy which can then be used to run various farm operations. The solar energy can also be sent to the Ontario electrical grid which helps to power homes and farms all over Ontario.  Not only have participating Greenbelt farmers saved money on their energy bills, but they also get money back from the Province for helping to power the grid.  Saving money and making money? Sounds like a pretty great deal to me.

An evaluation of the project was written by Agviro in May of 2011.  This evaluation provided total annual potential and realized electricity and natural gas savings and generation.  In one year there was 136,389 kWh of clean and renewable energy generated, savings of 135,912 mon the cost and use of natural gas, and savings of 1,402,873 kWh on electricity costs.  In the Greenbelt alone, on-farm solar panels are generating enough energy to power 170 homes, and energy saving initiatives by farmers are conserving enough energy for 1,788 homes annually.      

Nature gave us an incredible way to produce energy and the more we embrace the sun as a way to cut out pollution and greenhouse gases, the more we give back to nature and make this world a better place for all future generations.  Green energy is the next step to a greener planet, and a happier wallet.  

Till Next time,

-Nicole Malatesta, Program Assistant

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