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Missouri Farmers and Renewable Energy Information

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The following information covers topics that are very dear to my heart.  1) Clean Energy and 2) Farming / Ranching.  For everyone who has not read the About Me Page; I was raised on a 4,000 acre Cattle Ranch in North Missouri.  It was here that I learned my first lessons in: Sustainable  Living and was introduced to my first Solar Panels.  My Farther used Solar Electric Fence Chargers to keep the Cattle in the Pastures and for the Rotational Grazing System he utilized to assist in the development of the Feeder Steers.  Enough reminiscing on with the article:

As the Article Points out:

"Eighty-two percent of the state's electricity

comes from coal, nearly all of it shipped from


Article courtesy of: NRDC: Renewable Energy in Missouri


A renewable energy industry in Missouri would create tens of thousands of jobs and new sources of income for farmers
Missouri's conventional fuel resources are slim

, and energy dollars are streaming out of the

 state. Missourians spend about $3,000 per

person each year on energy, including natural

gas for heating, fuel for cars and trucks, and

electricity for homes and businesses.[1]

Eighty-two percent of the state's electricity 

comes from coal, nearly all of it shipped from

But the state's large tracts of windy land and

 fertile soil, located relatively close to dense,

 energy-consuming urban centers, put Missouri in

 a prime position to become a national leader in renewable energy. Studies show

 that a local renewable energy industry in Missouri would create tens of

thousands of jobs and provide substantial new sources of income for farmers.

By developing wind power, making biomass energy from agricultural waste and

growing dedicated energy crops to make advanced biofuels, Missouri can keep

its energy dollars at home and even start exporting energy to other states.

Missouri has already established a Renewable Energy Standard that will require

15 percent of the state's energy to come from renewable sources by 2021.
The renewables map shows current and future facilities generating energy from

 wind, biomass, solar and biogas in Missouri.

Wind Energy

wind turbine
Credit: Nordex SE
The average Missouri farm could host three to four wind turbines and bring in $18,000 to $24,000 per year in land lease payments
According to the National Renewable Energy

 Laboratory (NREL), Missouri has enough wind

to capture as much as 275,000 megawatts of

power – nine times the state's current electricity

 capacity, or enough to easily meet the state's

 total annual demand for electricity.[3] Many of

 these windy plots are relatively close to St.

 Louis or Kansas City, which brings down the

cost of transmitting wind energy. Harnessing

just a fraction of Missouri's wind power would

 result in a major new source of income for

 many farmers and rural communities. The

average 269-acre Missouri farm [4] could host

 three to four wind turbines and bring in $18,000

 to $24,000 annually from land lease payments.


In 2009 and 2010, Missouri tripled its wind

 power capacity, supporting 500 to 1,000 jobs in

 the state. Missouri wind farms currently

produce 459 megawatts of energy -- enough to

 power 110,000 homes. An additional 2,000

megawatts of wind power are in development.[6] Continuing to invest in wind

 power would provide a further economic boost to the state's economy.

 According to the Department of Energy, building twenty-five 100-megawatt wind

 facilities -- an achievable goal -- would create thousands of construction jobs

and hundreds of permanent jobs; manufacturing wind turbine parts could create

thousands more.

Biomass Energy and Cellulosic Ethanol

Farmers in a switchgrass field
Credit: Gretz, Warren - NREL Staff Photographer
Missouri farms already produce enough crop waste to manufacture about 500 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol each year
Missouri makes about 2.5 percent of the

nation's corn ethanol,[7] but the biofuels of the

future will not be made from corn kernels. The

best biofuels protect the environment and food

 supplies while improving the economic welfare

 of workers and communities. Cellulosic

 ethanol, made from crop waste (such as corn

 stover, the stalks and other bits left over after

 harvest) and non-food plants, can produce four

 to ten times as much energy per acre as

 current corn ethanol -- saving huge tracts of

 food-growing farmland.[8]
Missouri farms already produce enough crop

 waste from corn, winter wheat, soybeans,

 sorghum, cotton and timber to manufacture

 about 500 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol

 each year.[9] That's about 15 percent of all the

 automotive gasoline used in the state. A

Missouri corn grower whose farm yields a ton of

corn stover per acre could generate $13,000 in

 annual revenue from his waste.[


The potential is even greater when you look at growing energy crops, such as

 switchgrass. This perennial native prairie grass can be grown on marginal land

 with little moisture, yields up to 10 dry tons per acre and regenerates without

replanting for 10 years or more.[11] Miscanthus, a woody perennial, is another

promising energy crop that grows well in Missouri's climate.

Missouri can produce up to 15 million dry tons of energy crops just from the 1.5

million acres of Conservation Reserve Program land on which food crops are not

 grown.[12] In addition, a portion of winter cover crops could be harvested as an

 additional source of many millions of tons of biomass. A study by the Institute

 for Local Self-Reliance found that Missouri has the potential to produce an

 amount of ethanol equivalent to 78 percent of its current demand for gasoline.

A pilot facility capable of making 1.5 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol

 from corn stover, sorghum and switchgrass is now under development in St.

 Joseph, Missouri.[14] Ramping up advanced biofuels production would create

thousands of jobs in Missouri and generate millions of dollars in local property


These same energy crops can also be substituted for a portion of coal in existing

 power plants -- a relatively low-cost way to quickly ramp up renewable electricity


Biogas Energy

Missouri hog farms could generate 301,000 megawatt-hours of electricity each year from methane -- about $22 million of local power each year
Missouri has only one biodigester in operation


 but as one of the top five hog-producing

 states in the

 country, it generates large amounts of

 livestock waste

 that can be converted into biogas energy.


TheEPA's AgSTAR program reports that 154

 Missouri hog farms are potentially profitable

 sites for biodigesters.

 Together, these operations are capable of 

producing 3.5 billion cubic feet of methane 

and generating 301,000 megawatt-hours of 

electricity each year from it.[16

At 7.35 cents per kilowatt-hour (the average 

electricity utility rate in Missouri in 2009),

 that's more than $22 million in forgone

 economic revenue to farms 

and local communities.
Missouri's dairy farms, cattle feedlots and

poultry farms could also profit from installing

biodigesters on site, especially if smaller

operations pool their resources and as

improved technology reduces biodigester

The right set of supportive government policies

could help Missouri farmers realize the benefits of anaerobic biodigester

technology within a few years.

Solar Energy

Missouri utilities provide an incentive of at least $2 per watt for small-scale solar installations, bringing costs down nearly 25 percent
The new Missouri Renewable Electricity Standard

requires that 2 percent of the state's renewable

electricity come from solar power. That's about

190,000 megawatt-hours of annual solar

electricity production by 2021, or the equivalent

of powering nearly 2,000 homes.[17]

Solar energy costs have come down considerably

in recent years, and the new law is making it

even more affordable by requiring utilities to

provide an incentive of at least $2 per watt for

customer-based installations -- about 20 to 25

 percent of today's cost for a solar array.
Missouri farmers could take advantage of the open skies over their land and

install solar arrays to meet their own energy needs. Solar panels on farms could

generate energy for water and space heating, grain drying, greenhouse heating

and electricity.[18] Plus, Missouri's net-metering law allows solar electricity

producers to sell their energy back to utilities – another potential source of


Renewable Energy Meets Wildland and Wildlife Conservation

Certain lands (such as parks, critical wildlife habitats, and wilderness quality

 lands) and ecologically sensitive areas in the oceans are not appropriate for

 energy development. In some of these areas, energy development is prohibited

or limited by law or policy, in others it would be highly controversial. NRDC does

not endorse locating energy facilities or transmission lines in such areas. And in

all cases, siting decisions must be made extremely carefully, impacts must be

 mitigated and operations conducted in an environmentally responsible manner.
For more information on the intersection between clean energy development and

wildland and wildlife conservation in the American West, including locations of

parks, wildlife refuges and other conservation areas, see this Google Earth-

based feature.


Economic Incentives for Renewable Energy Projects in Missouri

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

listsfederalstate and local government incentives for renewable energy projects

in Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Energy Center keeps a

current listing of programs and incentives based on economic sectors from

 federal, state and local utility incentive programs, as well as renewable energy 

technology fact sheets.

The most recent Farm Bill provides a number of incentives for renewable energy.

 The Environmental Law and Policy Center maintains a helpful website

calledFarm Energy, which outlines current incentives and monitors the

development of new ones.

Missouri's net metering law allows small scale renewable electricity generators

(up to 100 kilowatt capacity) to connect to the grid, and requires utility

companies to buy their power at the retail utility price, up to the amount of usage

 by the customer.[19]

Wind Energy

The DOE Wind Powering America site provides a helpful summary of wind power

 activities and resources in the Missouri, including an anemometer loan 

program,wind maps and a Missouri small wind consumer's guide.
Missouri's Division of Energy has numerous wind maps, including county-level

maps, available for download or on CD-ROM.

Biomass Energy and Cellulosic Ethanol

Missouri has a number of incentives for the use of alternative fuels, the purchase

 of an alternative-fuel vehicle and the construction or purchase of an alternative-

fuel refueling station or equipment. See the Alternative Fuels and Advanced 

Vehicles Data Center at the EERE website for a list of state and federal

incentives and laws.

Biogas Energy

The EPA's AgSTAR program has a comprehensive handbook on developing

biogas technology. The site includes FarmWare, a free decision-making software

 package that can help you assess the feasibility of biogas on your farm.

Solar Energy

The Missouri Energy Center boasts a long-standing Energy Revolving Fund to

help finance new solar energy projects. The Energy Center also administers

theMissouri Million Solar Roofs program that provides financial incentives to buy-

down the purchase and installation of an eligible solar PV system.

Utility customers of Columbia Water & Light Company can put a utility 

rebatetoward purchasing and installing a new solar hot water or solar

photovoltaic system.

The new Missouri Renewable Electricity Standard provides financial support of at

 least $2 per watt for small-scale installations, a subsidy of about 20 to 25

percent of today's cost of a solar array.


  1. [1] This total includes 82 million MWh of electricity, costing more than $5 billion, 272 billion cubic feet of natural gas, costing about $3 billion at today's prices, and about 3.25 billion gallons of gasoline plus 1.5 billion gallons of diesel totaling $10 billion at today's prices (numbers extrapolated from Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, state energy profiles)
  2. [2] http://www.nrdc.org/energy/cleanmo/files/cleanmo.pdf
  3. [3] http://www.awea.org/_cs_upload/learnabout/publications/6400_2.pdf
  4. [4] Data from U.S. Department of Agriculture
  5. [5] Based on typical annual payments of $3000/MW, as used in the JEDI model; seehttp://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/filter_detail.asp?itemid=707#works
  6. [6] http://www.awea.org/_cs_upload/learnabout/publications/6400_2.pdf
  7. [7] Energy Information Administration, State Energy Profiles
  8. [8] Worldwatch Institute, "Smart Choices for Biofuels", p.8
  9. [9] "An Assessment of Biomass Feedstock Availability in Missouri," February, 2006http://www.dnr.mo.gov/energy/docs/biomass-inventory2005-07.pdf
  10. [10] See reports of the multi-agency Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) http://www.brdisolutions.com/default.aspx
  11. [11] BRDI, "Increasing Production for Biofuels," p.23
  12. [12] The study finds that if growers chose to keep growing existing forage grass on this land, three tons of biomass per acre could be harvested without increased risk of soil erosion.
  13. [13] http://www.newrules.org/de/energyselfreliantstates.pdf
  14. [14] http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKN1952406520090219
  15. [15] U.S. Department of Agriculture 2007 Census of Agriculture
  16. [16] USEPA AgSTARhttp://www.epa.gov/agstar/documents/biogas_recovery_systems_screenres.pdf
  17. [17] http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3
  18. [18] For a detailed description of agricultural solar applications, see:http://www.nyserda.org/programs/pdfs/agguide.pdf
  19. [19] For detailed comparison of state net metering policies, see: http://irecusa.org/irec-programs/connecting-to-the-grid/net-metering/

NRDC: Renewable Energy in Missouri

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