Farm Explores Renewable Energy

On Friday, June 2, Fair Farms visited Woodbourne Creamery in Montgomery County for a Solar Open House. The Creamery, which installed a Delaval VMS (“Voluntary Milking System”) in 2013, has its 60 guernsey cows come in to be milked when they want, typically between two to three times per day. The cows also graze and eat grass all day long.

At the open house, Woodbourne showcased its adoption of clean, renewable energy. They were joined by the installation company, Paradise Energy Solutions (PES), who reported that on sunny days, the solar panels are capable of meeting 100% of the dairy operation’s energy needs, as well as powering other facilities on the farm.

As it is scaled to fuel a farm, the solar system is quite large, and the panels can be spotted on the roof of the barn and in the field. The panels generate about 130kWh of energy, as compared to about 40 kWh produced by a home solar system. Woodbourne Creamery is proud to say it will be practically exempt from its energy bill in a decade.

Eliminating our dependency on fossil fuels and sourcing our energy renewably will take a combination of clean energy sources, but solar is frequently underutilized.

Objections to installing solar are frequently derived from the high start-up cost and the belief that local conditions are not accommodating. However, while Maryland gets is share of cloudy days, PES stated that Maryland receives more than enough sun to utilize solar energy, and that installing panels throughout the state, particularly on the Eastern shore, would be very beneficial to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.

PES also explained how owners of solar even have the opportunity to create a profit by feeding their surplus energy back into the local grid. On clear days, panels frequently produce more energy than is demanded, causing energy companies to credit owners for whatever they provide. A profit is not always generated, as the amount of energy credit is dependent upon the proportion of panels installed to the amount of electricity used, but even if a profit can’t be attained, the credit from feeding the grid on sunny days will likely cancel out any withdrawal charges on cloudy days.

Hopefully, many farms and residents throughout Maryland and across the nation will follow Woodbourne Creamery’s example, seeing that solar energy is a practical venture to preserve our resources financially and environmentally.