Benefits of agrivoltaics across food, water, energy sectors
Food and energy security need not be competing objectives. In fact, taking a holistic, integrated approach to food-energy-water decision making can increase resiliency of both food and energy systems…
Farms will harvest food and the sun, as Massachusetts pioneers ‘Dual-Use’ Solar
Fickle weather and fluctuating prices make farming a risky business, so five years ago, [Paul] Knowlton installed a new cash crop: solar energy. He turned 19 acres into two solar energy fields. “Doing the solar was very beneficial,” he says. “In the wintertime there is no revenue for a farm. It’s a tough game.”
Knowlton wants to increase the production of solar power on his farm, expanding it to another 14 acres. But this time, cutting-edge technology is making it possible to harvest both the sun’s energy and crops on the same land. It’s called “agrivoltaics” or “dual-use solar”…Knowlton has nine children, and hopes solar will help the farm stay in the family. “We’re going to keep it for the next generation to enjoy,” he says.
Video: Solar shading for dairy cows
We all know Minnesota summers can be hot, especially for our grazing dairy herd. We’ve installed solar panels in our pasture to provide shade for our cows. Brad Heins, WCROC dairy scientist, and Kirsten Sharpe, graduate student, share more information…
Solar panels provide cow comfort
Research from the University of Minnesota on solar panels at dairy farms is leading to some interesting results. The panels produce electricity to run the farms, but also provide shade for the dairy cattle—thus improving cattle comfort.
A 30-kilowatt solar-powered system is in the pasture of the rotational grazing system at the West Central Research and Outreach Center. The center is located in Morris, Minnesota. According to University of Minnesota assistant professor and Extension Organic Dairy Management Specialist Brad Heins, the system provides shade for the center’s milking herd and energy for the milking parlor…
New York’s $226 billion pension fund is dropping fossil fuel stocks
“New York State’s pension fund, one of the world’s largest and most influential investors, will drop many of its fossil fuel stocks in the next five years and sell its shares in other companies that contribute to global warming by 2040, the state comptroller said on Wednesday.
With $226 billion in assets, New York’s fund wields clout with other retirement funds and its decision to divest from fossil fuels could accelerate a broader shift in global markets away from oil and gas companies, energy experts and climate activists said…”
Ninety percent of U.S. cars must be electric by 2050 to meet climate goals
The United States is not expected to electrify passenger cars fast enough to stay on track with the Paris climate accord’s goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, according to a new study.
Published in the journal Nature Climate Change yesterday, the study by engineers at the University of Toronto concludes that 90% of light-duty cars on American roads would need to be electric by 2050 to keep the transportation sector in line with climate mitigation targets…
Climate deniers are claiming EVs are bad for the environment—again. Here’s why they’re wrong.
A new paper published Tuesday, November 17, by the conservative think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), raises environmental concerns with electric vehicles in what appears to be the latest attempt by organizations associated with fossil fuel funding to pump the brakes on the transportation sector’s transition away from petroleum and towards cleaner electricity.
In the U.S., the transportation sector is the largest contributor to planet-warming emissions. Climate and energy policy experts say electrifying vehicles is necessary to mitigate these emissions.
In fact, scientists recently warned that if the country has any hope of reaching the Paris climate targets of limiting warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), 90 percent of all light-duty cars on the road must be electric by 2050.
Installed: elevated solar supports family farm, cows, and crops
Generally, solar projects on agricultural land face pushback because traditional solar systems cover the ground in a manner that significantly reduces the amount of available farmland. This project did not face this kind of opposition because a dual-use system doesn’t replace crops, it works with them.
The array is designed to allow sufficient sunlight for the crops and is raised high enough in the air to allow tractors continued access underneath…[It] is designed with 20 ft. row-spacing and a minimum panel height of 10 ft. to improve performance and allow tractors continued access. Dual-use systems use special solar photovoltaic (PV) racking to harvest power from the same sunlight that nourishes the crops that grow under the mounts…
Just how does solar grazing work?
There can be concerns about solar overtaking farmland. Yet with good design and partnership with farmers, solar can actually improve soil health and keep farmers on the land. Here’s a short video by Owens Farm, in Pennsylvania, about how solar grazing works.
For additional information, including leases and technical documents, check out American Solar Grazing Association.
On-farm solar grows as farmers see economic rewards—and risks
Steve Pierson switched from raising conventional dairy cows in confinement to grazing the animals on organic pasture for a simple reason: they kept getting sick. He had heard and read about the fact that cows that ate grass had healthier immune systems, since their bodies are designed to digest grasses, not the grain used as feed at most dairies. The transition did make the cows live longer, and he also began to notice other environmental benefits, such as healthier soil and more perennial grasses…