Sustainable energy an opportunity for modern agriculture

The traditional role of agriculture is food production and related services. However, we are increasingly encountering a situation where it seems necessary to implement a new approach to the functions of agriculture, i.e. Combining food production with energy production and energy sources.

There is now a greater emphasis on the sustainable agriculture model, which should be based on more efficient use of the raw materials generated on the farm, including a greater share of them in energy production. In the situation in which we find ourselves in the 21st century. The need for rational production and consumption of energy, while maintaining the balance of the ecosystem and the natural values of the environment, is increasingly recognized. This situation is mainly due to:

  • war in Ukraine;
  • depleting – with ever-increasing consumption – primary resources, i.e. coal, oil and gas;
  • continuous atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases, also associated with agricultural production (mainly livestock) and the combustion of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels;
  • high concentrations of greenhouse gases and the pollution of air, soil, water, entire ecosystems caused by them;
  • observed climate change.

Climate change forces new approach to energy

The observed climate change is forcing a new approach to energy in rural areas and agriculture. Therefore, the Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan 2022 – 2027 (CAP SP) provides for financial support for farmers to use renewable energy sources.

In agriculture, renewable energy can be generated using technologies such as:

  • Biogas plants, mainly microbial gas plants;
  • solar collectors;
  • photovoltaic systems;
  • Heat pumps, such as those using energy from animal husbandry processes;
  • biomass boilers;
  • Small wind power plants and onshore wind farms.

Energy management in rural areas

Energy management in rural areas is related to energy use not only directly in households, but also in their surroundings and in agricultural, agri-food processing and transportation activities.

Energy consumption in agriculture

According to the CSO, Polish agriculture in recent years has consumed approx. 7% of final energy, while in the European Union the value is approx. 3%. Energy is obtained primarily from liquid and gaseous fuels – approx. 50%, from coal – approx. 40%, and to a small extent from natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas – approx. 3%.

This is why sustainable rural development, based on renewable energy sources and related improvements in the environmental conditions of the countryside, as well as the quality of life of its residents, is so important. Polish agriculture is energy-intensive, but nevertheless can be an important producer of renewable energy sources, among others. biomass and components for biofuel production.

Rural areas in Poland have great potential for obtaining ecological, renewable energy sources, nevertheless their use is small, mainly due to unfavorable administrative and legal conditions.

Draft amendment of regulations to develop energy cooperatives

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development recently announced that a team of the Government Plenipotentiary for Agriculture and Rural Development has been working on a new project. The Rural Energy Transformation Committee is working on a package of solutions to support rural energy transformation, benefiting individual farmers in particular.

In response to the defined problems with the connection of RES installations to the grid and with the conclusion of contracts by the energy cooperative with energy companies, a draft amendment to the regulations has been prepared. The regulatory proposals include. purchase of energy by the local government from an energy cooperative. According to the Law of February 20, 2015. on renewable energy sources, an energy cooperative is a locally-operated form of association aimed at meeting the energy or heating needs of the energy cooperative and its members in rural and urban-rural areas.

It is worth pointing out that there are only two energy cooperatives in Poland on the list of the National Agricultural Support Center. For example, there are more than a thousand of them operating in Germany, and about two and a half thousand in Denmark.

Construction of new biogas plants – benefits for villagers

In connection with the implementation of one of the activities of the National Research and Development Center, namely. project called “Innovative Biogas Plant,” starting in June 2022. 6 experimental micro-gas plants are in operation. They were established at the Poznań University of Life Sciences’ research center in Brody Poznański.

The first biogas plant in Poland to produce biomethane without emitting noxious odors is planned to start up there. The prototype plant will be self-sufficient in electricity and heat by using a portion of the biogas produced. With such an installation, the price of heat for villagers will be relatively low. In addition, it has the advantage of using biodegradable waste from agriculture – a closed-loop economy – which will reduce the costs associated with its disposal. The new technology will also be characterized by high and stable production of gaseous fuel, hydrogen-free, closed-loop use of biogens (production of high-quality digestate for further use as commercially acceptable product(s)), energy self-sufficiency based on the biogas produced, and low operating costs.

The “Innovative Biogas Plant” project is being implemented with funds from the European Funds under the Intelligent Development Operational Program. More information about the venture can be found at http://www.gov.pl/web/ncbr/innowacyjna-biogazownia.

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