Powering agriculture: Present status, future potential, and challenges of renewable energy applications
School of Science
Prince of Songkla University, Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, Thailand, Reinventing University Project (Grant Number REV64008).
Modern agriculture requires much greater energy input than conventional agriculture, which heavily depends on fossil fuels for drying grain, manufacturing fertilizers, driving machinery, and generating electricity used for heating and lighting purposes. These energy-intensive activities at or off the farm level are major contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In developing countries, the agriculture sector is responsible for 35% of GHG emissions, while this figure is only 12% in developed countries. However, climate change and its impact can be alleviated by promoting renewable energy (RE) in agricultural applications, such as solar, wind, hydro-powered water pumps, greenhouse heating and cooling, solar water heaters, solar dryers for post-harvest processing, and lighting technologies. Nevertheless, transforming from a non-renewable energy-based system to a renewable-based agriculture system imposes several challenges. RE transition should be immediate and orderly, and requires incentive-based policies for both lower- and higher-income countries. This study investigates the application of renewable energies for agricultural activities for developing and developed countries, and reveals the present status and future potential along with challenges to be faced in this sector. The results suggest that renewable energy application in agriculture is well adopted in developed countries. In contrast, developing countries are still struggling to apply renewable resources in agriculture for challenges such as technical and economic ones, and RE application in agriculture could be the key to sustainable agriculture sector development. Related policy implications are indicated.