Local renewable energy resources could provide expansive economic opportunities for farmers and rural communities. To address Food, Energy, and Water futures, FEWtures will evaluate coordination of renewable, variable energy with agricultural needs.
The team is exploring the economic viability of using renewable energy to:
- increase usable water resources by treating degraded and unused water supplies, and
- produce ammonia that can both store energy and be used as fertilizer.
They are studying the potential of these innovations to create a multifaceted economic system able to sustain small town and rural (STAR) communities, and maintain needed agricultural production.
The goals of the project include:
- producing decision support software that enables agricultural producers to explore new opportunities available through local renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
- focusing on loads that serve agricultural interests, such as water treatment and small-scale ammonia production, means farm incomes can benefit, even in areas with modest renewable energy resources.
- selecting and designing electricity uses to be tolerant of intermittent energy supplies. Locating them near energy production facilities reduces transmission costs.
The project is hosted by the University of Kansas Institute for Policy and Social Research. the team includes faculty at University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Washington State University, Western New England University, and University of Montana. The study area is the central part of the Arkansas River basin, which extends from the foothills of Colorado and New Mexico east to include the arid portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
The project is funded by the National Science Foundation.