Wind turbines

Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Renewables

Playground
iStock

Schools and solar: Taking action, saving money

Land trusts are increasingly working with schools as part of their community conservation efforts. They could also help schools make the transition and share the good work of schools going solar, and the benefits of lands and waters we all want to conserve.

As school districts struggle to adapt to a nationwide budget crisis brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, many K-12 schools are shoring up budgets with a switch to solar power. Find out more inside this third edition of Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, including new data and trends on solar uptake at schools nationwide, how schools are saving millions in energy bills (with little-to-no upfront investment), and a national ranking of all states for solar on schools…

Read More »
Cows
Progressive Cattle

Solar panel shade for cattle

The dairy industry faces increasing market stresses; many farms have gone out of business. There is no reason why we couldn't prioritize solar to work with dairy grazing. It would enhance soil health, animal health, and farm viability.

Dr. Brad Heins, associate professor of dairy management at the University of Minnesota and researcher at the West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, Minnesota, implemented this idea at the center’s 300-cow pasture to provide shade for the herd and energy to power milking equipment. “The concept of solar grazing started because we wanted to reduce heat stress and produce energy to utilize in our dairy farm,” Heins says. “Our goal is to have a net-zero dairy.”

Read More »
Solar On Parking Lot
Earthlight Technologies

Study: Connecticut could conserve land by installing solar above parking lots

A study published in the current issue of Solar Energy shows that Connecticut could generate more than a third of the state’s annual electricity consumption with solar canopies built over large, existing parking lots. It would be terrific if we invested in solar parking lot construction — conservation-oriented people could promote this, recognizing that it is part of the energy solution.

The study, which appears in the current issue of Solar Energy, identified 8,416 large parking lots across the state that are suitable for power-producing solar canopies. Together, those sites could generate 9,042 gigawatt-hours annually, the equivalent of 37% of the state’s annual electricity consumption…

Read More »
Solar 2
RMI

The future of landfills is bright

Are you promoting the use of landfills for solar development? The more we can use landfills (assuming they haven't become important habitat lands), the more it takes pressure off other lands.

“There are more than 10,000 closed and inactive landfills around the country. These sites offer an incredible opportunity for solar development. By installing solar on closed landfills, states and municipalities advance local solar energy while repurposing relatively large, vacant sites within communities that have limited reuse potential.”

Read More »
Solar 1
BQ Energy Development

Landfills could host more than 60 GW of solar

Are you promoting the use of landfills for solar development? The more we can use landfills (assuming they haven't become important habitat lands), the more it takes pressure off other lands.

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) released a report, The Future of Landfills Is Bright, that offers a guide to considering the value of solar power installed on landfills. The report indicates that more than 63 GW of solar power plant capacity could be located in less than half of U.S. landfills, generating 83 terawatt hours of electricity each year across all 50 states.

The plants also could generate more than $6.6 billion annually in electricity revenue.

The report offers guidance to local jurisdictions for how to take advantage of these resources, including the considerations that must be taken when building on landfills, as well as how to create a financially viable marketplace for the sale of the solar electricity. It covers several necessary bureaucratic structures, and provides guidance on collecting the data necessary for siting projects on landfills…

Read More »
solar
Hyperion LLC, Massachusetts

Agrivoltaics clearinghouse launches to share info on matching solar with farming

Let's focus on soil health, water management, and farm and ranch viability. Let's stop focusing on preventing solar on "the best soils" and recognize that we have lost millions of acres of "the best soils" to development — or farming practices that have eroded those very soils and caused massive water pollution. This resource can help change current misconceptions, and support farmers and ranchers.

Solar installations may cover more than 3 million acres of the United States over the next decade, opening the door for PV to be paired with agricultural land to produce food, conserve ecosystems, and maximize income for farmers.

This opportunity, led by the National Center for Appropriate Technology to launch, is said to be the nation’s first AgriSolar Clearinghouse to connect farmers, ranchers, land managers, solar developers, and researchers with information about co-locating solar and agriculture…

Read More »
Agri Solar Clearing House

What is the AgriSolar Clearinghouse?

Solar installations may cover more than 3 million acres of the United States over the next decade, opening the door for PV to be paired with agricultural land to produce food, conserve ecosystems, and maximize income for farmers. This opportunity, led by the National Center for Appropriate Technology to launch, is said to be the nation’s first AgriSolar Clearinghouse to connect farmers, ranchers, land managers, solar developers, and researchers with information about co-locating solar and agriculture...

The AgriSolar Clearinghouse is an information-sharing, relationship-building, public communications hub for all things agrisolar. The AgriSolar community will:

  • Connect farmers, developers, researchers, and the public
  • Provide practical technical assistance
  • Develop best practices and innovative solutions to barriers
  • Evaluate innovative financing options
  • Promote sustainable agrisolar opportunities
Read More »
Solar Symposium

Virtual Solar Symposium

I thought you might appreciate the upcoming Solar and Wildlife/Natural Resources Symposium from December 1st – 3rd. It's remote; they will share recordings after the sessions if you are busy during that time. There's a very interesting mix of speakers and topics. American Farmland Trust, Defenders of Wildlife, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Audubon Society, and American Solar Grazing Association are presenting, to name a few. 

Dual-use solar is increasingly recognized as a way to accelerate climate “mitigation” (slowing down) while enhancing farm and ranch viability, soil health, and water management.

For many people in the conservation field, as well as community members, this perspective and the supporting data require a paradigm shift.

Read More »
Solara
Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE

Agrivoltaics to protect crops from heavy rainfall

If agriculture is going to flourish in a changing climate, we need to think about how to support it given increasingly extreme weather, blights, and management challenges. With millions of dollars going to farm viability efforts in the U.S. every year, it's completely possible that we as a country would also start to channel some of those funds to support elevated solar. Solar and orchards is a new idea for me, but I could see it having a lot of benefits in areas dealing with hail and extreme weather.

BayWa r.e. and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE have built a 258 kW agrivoltaic system that hosts apple cultivation under four different crop protection systems. The system utilizes agrivoltaic technology with permanent, light-permeable PV modules that block rain, and tracking PV module tech that blocks rain only if necessary…

Read More »
Solar And Ag
Werner Slocum, NREL

The future of agriculture combined with renewable energy finds success at Jack’s Solar Garden

Across the world, and here in the U.S., those who care about farm and ranch viability, healthy soils, and water retention are realizing that elevated solar, and solar that works well with large animals and crops, is going to be an important piece in the conservation puzzle.

Jack’s Solar Garden is the largest commercially active agrivoltaics system researching crop and vegetation growth under photovoltaic solar panels in the United States. The garden generates enough power for more than 300 homes from 3,276 solar panels (6 ft and 8 ft) that create a 1.2-MW community solar garden.

Audubon Rockies, a regional office of the bird protection society, established their largest Habitat Hero pollinator habitat in Colorado around the solar array, while a local nonprofit farming organization, Sprout City Farms, trains young farmers to cultivate crops under the solar panels…

Read More »