Business & Policy
By Dan Woolley
By Dan Woolley
Farm Energy Nova Scotia (FENS), a group of researchers, academics and industry consultants from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Agra Point, provide Nova Scotia farmers with guidance and research for on-farm energy sustainability in the pursuit of conservation and energy efficiencies.
FENS staff will also go to farms to assess their energy needs. Gerry MacDonell, an Agra Point agriculture energy engineer, said FENS has now done about 40 farm energy reviews.
The review is a snapshot of the farm’s current energy use, said MacDonell, to help identify energy reduction opportunities.
Julie Bailey, NSDA’s farm energy specialist, added the poultry industry is looking for particular lighting intensity in its poultry housing, with the recommended lighting level being 20 foot-candles for poultry houses, 50 foot-candles for incubators and 100 foot-candles for egg inspection stations. She also noted producers can take advantage of natural light, with windows, skylights and light tubes in ceilings.
Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) use 75 –per cent less power than incandescent fixtures and can last up to eight times longer, Bailey said, adding they contain mercury but will put less mercury into the environment than incandescent bulbs because much of Nova Scotia’s electricity is generated by coal-fired boilers. MacDonell noted incandescent lights will no longer be available within a year.
Bailey observed that a farmer could save $500 annually ($650 if the lights are on 24 hours a day) by replacing 10 100-watt incandescent bulbs with 10 26-watt CFL lights. Dimmable CFL bulbs are also available, she said.
In linear fluorescent bulbs, the T12 has been banned for new installations and replaced by the High Performance T8, which uses 40 –per cent less energy and provides better colour rendering.
Metal halide (high-intensity discharge, or HID) lamps have a 2,000-hour service life, said Bailey, but they take several minutes to come to full power and, if there is a power disruption, they will take a half-hour to restart. They also contain mercury. Moreover, linear fluorescent lights can provide the same light for about half the cost.
Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are very expensive to buy, although they are supposed to last four to five times longer than fluorescent tubes. Bailey cautioned they are also a new technology and a buyer should ensure the LEDs are under warranty.
A recent study of broiler barn lighting by the University of Arkansas Center of Excellence for Poultry Science recommended LEDs over CFLs for incandescent light replacement, she noted, observing, “The experience in Nova Scotia has been good in that the performance of CFL lighting has been very brand specific. Some farmers have had multiple CFL failures with one and success with others.”
Bailey estimated Nova Scotia farms have the potential to achieve a 15 –per cent saving in annual electrical costs. A 26 –per cent potential reduction in on-farm energy use has also been identified through on-farm energy audits done in the province.
The Farm Investment Fund (FIF) can provide 75 –per cent funding, up to $2,000, for an on-farm energy review, she said.
Another saving can come from heating. An infrared heater for a poultry barn can use 10 to 40 per cent of the energy consumed by a standard box heater, observed Bailey.
In a poultry barn, she calculated, there is a two-year payback for conversion to CFL bulbs and in broiler housing the payback is even shorter, less than one year.
Bailey said in one broiler barn in the province, 140 incandescent fixtures were replaced by 72 high-performance T8 tubes, producing an expected annual electrical saving of $2,000, with 50 per cent of the $21,000 conversion cost covered by FIF. The result is a five-year payback.
Under Efficiency Nova Scotia, the independent agency that promotes reduced energy use and increased energy efficiency, there is a Small Business Lighting Solution (SBLS) program with a two-year payback. She said the SBLS program has a free assessment and up to 80 per cent funding to cover the installation cost of energy-efficient lighting.
Efficiency Nova Scotia also has the Commercial and Industrial Customers program, which will cover larger farmers. It is meant for projects that will save 20,000 kilowatt-hours annually and comes with funding of up to $500,000, or 50 per cent of the implementation cost.
There is also Smart Lighting Choice, another Efficiency Nova Scotia program that encourages the purchase of high-efficiency lighting fixtures at discount prices through specified vendors.
Another program is the Agro-Environmental Initiatives in the FIF program for green, renewable energy projects. Bailey said a Nova Scotia farmer is refitting two of his poultry barns with six ground source heat pumps that can either heat or cool water as required to offset his oil heating costs.
He has been spending $36,000 a year for fuel oil, she said, noting the project will cost $235,000; but it has received FIF money, Eco Energy refit funding, plus a Nova Scotia Power business energy rebate, with an expected payback within four years at $1 per litre of oil.
Preheating ventilated air for poultry housing makes a lot of sense to her and that is what Cornwallis Farms, of Port Williams, Kings County, N.S., has done by installing a solar wall along 270 feet of the south side of a poultry barn.
The project, costing about $56,000 will save about 30 per cent of the annual heating cost or about $7,000 in propane, she said.
It is subsidized by FIF money and a 15 –per cent grant from Conserve Nova Scotia.
FIF can also support other renewable energy sources such as wind power, she said, adding a one-kilowatt-hour wind turbine will have a payback between 10 and 30 years.
Glenn Jennings was an early adapter, erecting three small wind turbines at his Masstown poultry farm in Colchester County a few years ago.
She recommended, however, that farmers should choose carefully a location for their wind turbine, as higher turbine towers will generate more electricity because they can reach stronger winds.