Farmers and agribusinesses can learn more about the benefits of installing solar energy systems as a method to reduce costs - and slash their operations’ environmental impact - during an agricultural solar energy workshop offered at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center Oct. 1.

Agriculture producers may find that installing such solar energy systems offers significant cost savings, said Fred Michel, event co-planner and associate professor of biosystems engineering in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

“In addition, these systems result in the emission of almost no greenhouse gases, reducing a farm’s impact on climate change,” he said.

Ohio State University Extension is sponsoring the event, along with the Wayne County Sustainable Energy Network. OARDC and OSU Extension are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the college.

Solar energy is electricity or heat produced from sunlight.

“Due to decreases in the cost of solar panels, state and federal incentives for renewable energy, and the experience of Ohio solar installers, the lifetime costs for solar electricity are now usually less than for electricity from the grid,” Michel said. “This helps agricultural producers reduce their costs and their environmental impact, both of which are essential to their future productivity.”

These kinds of systems are a good option for agricultural producers, who often have a long time horizon to recoup capital investments, as well as roof and other space available for solar panel installation, he said.

 “Solar energy can be used on farms directly and/or sent to the grid and used to offset electricity use later in the year via net metering,” Michel said.

The workshop will feature the following topics:

* Considerations for On-Farm Solar Development, including overall energy trends, energy policy, on-farm solar development, a financial overview, and considerations for reviewing a solar energy proposal.

* Information on the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Through REAP, agricultural producers and rural small businesses (defined as those generating 50 percent or more of their income from agricultural products) may be eligible for a grant that can pay for up to 25 percent of the total project costs of an energy efficiency improvement or solar energy project.

* Installer Perspectives.

The workshop is from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Thorne Hall, room 200, 1680 Madison Ave., on the OARDC campus in Wooster.

The workshop is free to attend but does require registration. To register or for more information, contact Michel at 330-263-3859 or michel.36@osu.edu, or Mary Wicks at 330-202-3533 or wicks.14@osu.edu.