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25 September 2015

Farms: from the usual suspects for environmental pollution to local heroes as sources of renewable energy

The transformation of waste and litter can produce biomethane and biogas, with obvious economic and ecological benefits.

Owning a farm presents important choices, including ethical choices if the desire to improve their energy consumption and help the environment is included. In fact, many types of energy are used on a farm: from the electricity used in facilities such as milking, lighting, refrigeration and processing agricultural products , to heating and the use of fuels for agricultural machinery.
Meeting most of these energy demands involves using fossil fuels. It’s frightening to consider that in Italy the energy consumption of agricultural food companies is about 17 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent).

Added to all this is the food wasted in production, which also includes unharvested crops. Yet the intervention of alternative energy systems may be the most effective solution to saving on heat distribution, washing and packaging products, and cooling and refrigeration processes, resulting in a reduction of between 15% to 25% compared to the amount of energy currently being consumed.
But the use of renewable energy is hampered by an impenetrable bureaucracy, which still fails to understand the effectiveness of new technologies and their potential to avoid the energy catastrophe we are heading towards. In fact, action to lower the consumption of energy must clear legal, social and economic hurdles.

Obtaining permission, the lack of a mindset favourable to promoting new technologies in the food industry and the great difficulty in accessing government funds – all of these slow down the process of making energy savings. All the bureaucratic process should be reassessed because renewable energy holds great hope for us all. It’s not a hope that we want to see dashed.


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