One way farmers can protect themselves against high and volatile energy prices is through the adoption of onfarm renewable energy systems. The adoption of renewable energy technologies nearly doubled between 2008 and 2011. Still, only about 1.6 percent of farms produced renewable energy in 2011. According to a 2009 national survey of renewable energy-producing farm operators, solar energy production is the most prevalent form of onfarm renewable energy, with an estimated 93 percent of farms with renewable energy generation reporting solar electric or solar thermal-generating capacity. A sizeable minority of these farms also produced energy from wind, which is the second most prevalent onfarm renewable fuel source; 17 percent of farms with renewable energy capacity had wind generation in 2009 (11 percent in combination with solar). A final source of onfarm renewable energy production is methane digesters, which collect and store manure for heat and electricity generation. Farm operations with anaerobic digesters (1.4 percent of farms with renewable energy) are far less common than those with either wind or solar capacity. This chart is adapted from a chart (fig. 22) in the ERS report, Agriculture’s Supply and Demand for Energy and Energy Products, EIB-112, May 2013.
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