Irrigation uses a lot of electricity, requires expensive grid in remote areas

[ The articles below show the interdependency of irrigation, electricity, climate change, water, and the U.S. energy sector.  In addition I’d add that all of these infrastructures are all falling apart and rusting.

Once the electric grid isn’t up 24 x 7 in the future, food and feed production dependent on irrigation will decline as farms are forced to go back to dry land farming.  Delivery of electricity to farms is already very expensive since farms are usually far from fossil and nuclear power plant electricity generation.

Alice Friedemann  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts:  KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity]

United States Department of Agriculture irrigation statistics:

  • Irrigated agriculture accounts for the largest share of the Nation’s consumptive water use.
  • Roughly 57 million acres were irrigated in 2007, whic is 7.5% of all U.S. cropland and pastureland
  • In 2007, irrigated farms accounted for 55% of the total value of crop sales while also supporting the livestock and poultry sectors through irrigated production of animal forage and feed crops.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors water use by economic sector, estimates that irrigated agriculture accounted for 37% of the Nation’s freshwater withdrawals in 2005.
  • Population and economic growth, Native American water-right claims, and water quality/environmental priorities are increasing the demand for water resources. Expansion of the U.S. energy sector is also expected to increase regional demands for water. In much of the West where irrigation is concentrated, climate change could shrink water supplies as a result of warming temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns, and reduced snow pack, while also increasing water demand.

May 12, 2014. Many industrial electricity customers are farmers

graph of number of industrial electric customers, top-10 states, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Annual

Farmers make up a significant share of industrial electricity customers in certain states. This is because of demand from farm irrigation systems. For example, Nebraska is largely rural and agricultural, but it has the third-highest count of industrial electricity customers in the United States. The same factor drives up the number of industrial electricity customers in Idaho and Kansas, which are also among the top 10 states in number of industrial electricity customers.

Irrigation load from farm irrigation systems can be costly to serve, because of the high cost of connecting these dispersed systems to the electric grid and the high cost of having enough capacity available to meet seasonal irrigation load.

A number of industrial electricity customers are concentrated in the Great Plains states and other agricultural-heavy states like Idaho and California.

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One Response to Irrigation uses a lot of electricity, requires expensive grid in remote areas

  1. Dermot Gilley says:

    “Irrigated agriculture accounts for the largest share of the Nation’s consumptive water use.” That’s partly due to “modern” soils losing more water than natural habitat would as their microbial biodiversity has been greatly reduced (often to 1% of the abundance of incumbent species that can never be seen with the naked eye) due to fertilizers and pesticide/herbicide use (as well as loss of top soil, compacting and other influences too). It would probably be wise, since fertilizer etc. are energy-intensive products too, to take a hard look at modern intensive agriculture’s overall (!) energy balance.