Whether it’s foreign oil or coal, right here in Illinois no resource is unlimited. Those environmental concerns are being addressed at the Renewable Energy Fair in Ogle County. New energy innovations are reaching area farmers and giving crops a new way to help out mother nature.
For months, Fred Kuzel has worked with car companies and energy groups with ethanol, a corn-based fuel product that is giving new hope and new profit potential for farmers.
Kuzel says, "It really helps the farmer because it adds the value of the corn so he gets more money back on his dollar than what he puts in."
Kuzel and dozens of other energy organizations showed off the latest in solar, wind and fuel energy alternatives at the Energy Fair in Ogle County. The new buzz surrounds corn. When mother nature floods the fields and ruins the crops for our consumption, money can still be made.
"You almost can't lose from it because the farmers are staying in business for one thing and by helping the rural communities," says Kuzel.
Corn wasn't the only area crop that is showing value in renewable energy. Recent developments have also made soybeans a hot commodity in producing biodiesel. Biodesel is a fuel that gives tractors better gas mileage and gives off less pollution.
Mary Auth with the Illinois Soybean Association says, "People can now burn what they grow on their own farm. It also helps consumers because it burns cleaner."
Auth and other biodiesel advocates say Rockford area farmers have been supportive of expanding their crops to the energy sector. Auth tells 23 News that she is confident that as more people get informed and get active, the biodiesel costs will shoot down.
"As the demand goes up, the prices will go down and we'll have more biodiesel fuel to use," Auth says.
Kuzel also sees the shift to corn produced ethanol as the ultimate win-win situation for farmers and cleaner skies.
"The farmers have all been very receptive to it and especially rural communities and a lot of urban areas because it's helping them clean up their environment."
An environment which soon could shine brighter.
Solar power was also a hot energy topic among other organizations. ComEd showed off a 75 watt module juiced with enough power to light an average sized home.