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California agricultural irrigation consumes more than ten billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually and has significant potential for contributing to a reduction of stress on the grid through demand response, permanent load shifting, and energy efficiency measures. To understand this potential, a scoping study was initiated for the purpose of determining the associated opportunities, potential, and adoption challenges in California agricultural irrigation.
The primary research for this study was conducted in two ways. First, data was gathered and parsed from published sources that shed light on where the best opportunities for load shifting and demand response lie within the agricultural irrigation sector. Secondly, a small limited survey was conducted as informal face-to-face interviews with several different California growers to get an idea of their ability and willingness to participate in permanent load shifting and/or demand response programs.
Analysis of the data obtained from published sources and the survey reveal demand response and permanent load shifting opportunities by growing region, irrigation source, irrigation method, grower size, and utility coverage. The study examines some solutions for demand response and permanent load shifting in agricultural irrigation, which include adequate irrigation system capacity, automatic controls, variable frequency drives, and the contribution from energy efficiency measures.
The study further examines the potential and challenges for grower acceptance of demand response and permanent load shifting in California agricultural irrigation. As part of the examination, the study considers to what extent permanent load shifting, which is already somewhat accepted within the agricultural sector, mitigates the need or benefit of demand response for agricultural irrigation. Recommendations for further study include studies on how to gain grower acceptance of demand response as well as other related studies such as conducting a more comprehensive survey of California growers.