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Rural Energy Center

Solar and Wind Assessments for Pivots (SWAP)

Use of center pivot irrigation (CPI) on square plots of farmland is commonplace throughout Colorado. Corners of fields with CPI sprinklers are often unirrigated and left fallow. In fact, a 2011 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated that over 300,000 acres of non-irrigated corners of CPI fields exists in Colorado.

With electricity expenses for pumping water for irrigated agriculture in the West totaling well over $1 billion annually, the REC started exploring the opportunity for individual farmers to utilize renewable energy in non-irrigated field corners. Sponsored by USDA, our Solar and Wind Assessments for Pivots (SWAP) project assessed the economic feasibility of installing solar or wind systems on this land.

Based on our assessments, an “average” participant’s results (solar only) include:

  • 48 kW solar PV systems
  • 80% offset of irrigation electricity use per meter
  • $140,000 upfront cost (pre-incentive)
  • $70,000 net cost (post-incentive).
  • $185,000 in energy benefits over 25 years
  • 3.1% pre-tax credit ROI
  • 4.7% post-tax credit ROI
  • 13-20 year + cashflow payback periods

For more information about the project or to request an assessment (Colorado farmers only), contact us.

Read an article on the SWAP project from Rural Connections magazine, Spring 2017.


Morgan County Rural Electric Association Colorado Department of Agriculture Highline Electric Association

Colorado CornRocky Mountain Farmer's Union

Updated Thursday, May 11, 2017

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