New Jersey approves pilot program to demonstrate feasibility of agrivoltaics
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) has approved an agreement with the Rutgers University Agrivoltaics Program (RAP) to facilitate the development and implementation of a Dual-Use Solar Energy Pilot Program over the next three years.
The pilot program will provide incentives to solar electric generation facilities located on unpreserved farmland that plan to maintain the land’s active agricultural or horticultural use. Dual-use solar can provide farmers with an additional stream of revenue, assisting with farm financial viability enabling continued agricultural or horticultural production of land while also increasing the statewide production of clean energy…
Innovative AgriSolar design, a round-table discussion
Do you want to see solar that works with cows, horses, vineyards, orchards, vegetables, and other forms of agriculture? How about solar that doesn’t require perimeter fencing and is spaced apart to allow for equipment to grow crops or grow grass and hay crops?
Some of these solar designs might also work well for wildlife.
This webinar provides insights into what is already happening here in the U.S. and abroad. The solar developers show you what they are doing and how it can go to “scale.”
AgriSolar Clearinghouse hosts a webinar series with this round-table discussion featuring innovative solar designers Helical Solar, Sun Agri, Hyperion, Sandbox Solar, Solargik, RUTE Agrivoltaics, Soliculture, Stracker Solar, Taka Solar, and Sunstall.
Engage public, explore methods to secure NYS green energy
Solar-power developers need to explore using lower-quality agricultural land for solar energy, boost incentives for dual-use (combined agriculture and solar) options, avoid concentrated solar development and engage communities early to achieve New York’s green energy goals, according to forthcoming Cornell research.
“As farmland is generally flat and cleared, agricultural land will be the prime target for future solar energy development,” said Max Zhang, professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, in the College of Engineering, and senior author of “Strategic Land Use Analysis for Solar Energy Development in New York State,” which will publish in August 2021 in Renewable Energy. “Good farmland, however, is not ideal.”
Made in the shade: Growing crops at solar farms yields efficiency
“There is potential for agrivoltaic systems – where agriculture and solar panels coexist – to provide increased passive cooling through taller panel heights [emphasis added], more reflective ground cover and higher evapotranspiration rates compared to traditional solar farms,” said senior author Max Zhang, professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering [at Cornell], “We can generate renewable electricity and conserve farmland through agrivoltaic systems.”
In New York, for example, about 40% of utility-scale solar farm capacity has been developed on agricultural lands, while about 84% of land deemed suitable for utility-scale solar development is agricultural, according to a previous research study from Zhang’s group…
Solar farms put cow comfort and crop yield ahead of harvesting electrons
Solar arrays that promise to generate happier, healthier cows and crops, while producing cheap electrons on the side, are being put into practice in France, following a series of government-led energy tenders with a difference…
To really drive home this focus, the French government used contracts for the difference where the price per MWh is set for 20 years above the market value to compensate for the prioritization of agriculture and livestock over maximum solar production…
Farmer first solar: Agrivoltaics webinar series
The AgriSolar Clearinghouse is an information-sharing, relationship-building public communications hub for all things agrisolar. The AgriSolar Clearinghouse is offering a free series of webinars regarding research on how solar and agriculture can work (and are working) together to enhance farm/ranch viability, soil health, and water management.
Webinar topics include: the cost of agrivoltaics, growing crops under solar panels, taste differences among crops grown under panels, solar and pollinator habitats, and more. You can sign up here, or watch recordings of past webinars.
Solar panels help French winemaker keep climate change at bay
A roof of solar panels shades Pierre Escudie as he inspects the last plump grapes to be harvested at his vineyard in southwest France, after a year of hard frosts and blistering heat that damaged many of his neighbors’ crops.
The solar panels insulate the grapes during periods of extreme cold and shield them from the sun’s harsh rays during heat waves. The panels also rotate to allow more light to hit the vines on more overcast days…
The Inflation Reduction Act is a game changer for nonprofits seeking solar + storage
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has been signed into law. While the IRA is one of compromise, some good and some not-so-good, its impact on the energy sector is significant. For Clean Energy Group’s Resilient Power Project and its partners, the IRA will significantly influence nonprofits seeking to develop solar PV and battery storage (solar+storage) solutions in low-income communities by removing barriers to accessing significant federal tax incentives.
Bees, sheep, crops: solar developers tout multiple benefits
Silflower was among native plants that blanketed the vast North American prairie until settlers developed farms and cities. Nowadays confined largely to roadsides and ditches, the long-stemmed cousin of the sunflower may be poised for a comeback, thanks to solar energy.
Researchers are growing silflower at nine solar installations in the Minneapolis area, testing its potential as an oilseed crop. The deep-rooted perennial also offers forage for livestock and desperately needed habitat for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Agrivoltaic solar tracker uses cables instead of buried steel
The Suntracker system is suspended by cables, rather than mounted on steel driven into the ground, providing what the company says is the lowest levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for high-clearance solar. Rute reports that by using cables rather than steel foundations, steel use is reduced by as much as 30%.
Another advantage of the cable system is that the land does not have to be disturbed in order to install the system, which is a benefit in the agricultural industry. It also enables the land to be returned to its original condition in the event that the solar installation were to be removed…