Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural Engineering

First Advisor

Leslie L. Christianson


World fossil fuel depletion and the unpredictability of foreign sources have increased the desirability of energy independence in the United States. Rising fuel prices affect every segment of the economy. Agriculture consumes only 2.5 percent of the total national energy consumption, but an uninterrupted supply of inexpensive fuel is vital to the success of this important industry. Solar energy, because it is one of the only energy incomes of the earth, holds great promise as a future energy source. For solar energy to become widely adopted as a source of alternate energy, solar systems must be developed that are both technically and economically feasible. Currently a need exists for a rational and relatively simple method of integrating performance and reliability factors, climatic conditions, and economic projections to evaluate solar systems for specific applications. Although solar insolation itself is free, there are often large capital costs associated with its collection. Because of these high capital costs, and because savings from the system are spread over several years, it is important to analyze the economic feasibility before investing in a solar system. Economic analysis of any solar system is dependent on the system design and its application. Cost and performance relationships must be developed for each system, intended application, and geographic location. Research in the South Dakota State University Agricultural Engineering Department has led to development of the Solar Energy Intensifier-Thermal Energy Storage (SEI-TES) System. The SEI-TES system can be constructed on the farm using commonly available materials, but to achieve significant market penetration it must be made commercially available. An accurate cost estimate of a commercially available system requires analysis of materials and methods of production. This cost must be compared with economic savings the farmer derives from using the SEI-TES system to determine economic feasibility. The goal of this research was to investigate the economic feasibility of a commercially produced SEI-TES system for eastern South Dakota farms. Research was conducted with the following specific objectives: 1) Determine the costs of producing the SEI-TES system, and estimate its necessary retail selling price. 2) Assess the economic feasibility of using the SEI-TES system on two case study farms.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Solar energy in agriculture -- Economic aspects
Solar energy industries -- Economic aspects



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - United State