On January 29, 2014, the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) release the Colorado Renewable Heating & Cooling Roadmap. This study, conducted by Energy Intersections, LLC on behalf of CDA, provides a path forward to stimulating the implementation of renewable heating and cooling energy—in other words, thermal rather than electric—technologies in Colorado’s agricultural sectors.
Researchers Leslie Martel Baer, Samuel J. Anderson, and Rebecca English examined the most feasible opportunities for CDA to work with Colorado producers in reaping the benefits of technologies such as solar thermal and ground source heat pumps. These technologies do not produce electricity. Instead, they capture and transfer heat for use as heating or cooling energy. Usually, these technologies are many times more efficient at heating and cooling than other technologies, such as electricity or propane. These technologies are often more cost-effective than the most expensive heating and cooling resources, as well. Given the right situations, these technologies can offer paybacks of well under five years and robust long-term ROIs.
“We aimed to provide a manual for CDA to pursue opportunities, addressing which agricultural sectors fit with which technologies, as well as financing opportunities,” comments Ms. Baer. “One of the exciting aspects of what we learned is that there are really two levels of renewable thermal technologies—technologies that cool or heat—that CDA can work on with producers. Some of the low-tech options could be installed at minimal expense with several hours of labor, but would then potentially save many hours of labor and significant costs. A good example here is geothermal tempering for remote stock tanks that freeze.
“At the same time,” Ms. Baer continues, “there are outstanding opportunities for larger operations such as dairies, feed mills and large greenhouse operations. We provided fairly detailed initial analyses in the report so that folks could see what it would take to install one of these systems—and what the benefits would be. If CDA chooses to pursue a program to encourage these technologies, they have many options and can impact many operations. I hope that many people in the agricultural community take the time to peruse the report; I think that there is potential benefit in these ideas for thousands of operators across the stated.”