The goal of this project was to determine if the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) dairy production could achieve a net zero energy status, meaning that the dairy operation uses as much as energy on-site as the amount of energy that is produced on-site for the dairy operation. There are several ways to accomplish this goal, principally through energy conservation, by means of installing more energy efficient technologies, as well as the installation of on-site renewable energy. At the WCROC dairy, a new utility room has been installed to introduce energy efficient technologies to the dairy operation, as well as 54 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic (PV), and 20 kilowatts of wind energy to power the dairy operation. Through these installments, the WCROC dairy has reduced energy consumption and operational costs. On-site energy coming from the solar PV and wind turbines has been able to successfully power the dairy operation to create a net zero energy dairy production facility. It is important to explore the reasons why making these updates are important, and how saving energy honors the values and purpose of the rural farmer. To examine several of these reasons, an environmental ethics analysis was completed. This analysis provides insights as to why, morally and ethically, it is important to recognize and execute best practices on the farm with regard to energy and the environment. Economic analysis was key to this success at the WCROC dairy, and it is critical that economic viability analysis of energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy systems are completed to ensure the best value for any farm. At WCROC, economic viability included comparing costs of the baseline energy system to costs of the new energy system as well as the amount of money that renewable energy systems are offsetting in fossil fuel costs. The Net Present Value and the Internal Rate of Return were calculated for the renewable energy systems and energy efficiency upgrades on the WCROC dairy farm to determine if they were viable economic investments for the farm.
Dice, Mckenzie, "Net Zero Energy Dairy Production: Powering Minnesota Dairy Farms with Renewable Energy" (2017). Honors Capstone Projects. 7.