NREL Studies Show Utility of Renewable Energy Sources in Agriculture

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)’s Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis recently conducted two studies that researched energy efficiency in agricultural settings. The studies examined how anaerobic digestion and solar energy could replace fossil fuels as an energy source on dairy farms and in greenhouses, respectively.

The first study examined anaerobic digestion. This is a process that occurs when certain microorganisms break down matter in an oxygen-free environment, producing biogas, an organic energy source. “Through our research, we’ve found that an anaerobic digester system at the Aurora Organic Dairy could produce enough energy to meet all the farm’s electricity demands and export up to two megawatts back to the grid, producing enough energy to heat approximately 216,000 gallons of water per day,” said Darlene Steward, an NREL scientist.

The second study explored how greenhouses could decrease reliance on fossil fuels and concluded that “There is no one-size-fits-all solution for greenhouses, but the appropriate combination of technical and non-technical heat and power generation could improve the sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change and evolving industry,” said Gail Mosey, the lead researcher in the NREL study.

Energy efficiency innovations like these are ecologically and financially sound investments. To learn about the energy savings opportunities available to you and your commercial property, contact us at for an energy audit.