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Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Renewables

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…

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Are Natural Climate Vid

Stanford researchers discuss imperative to combine natural and industrial approaches to global decarbonization

Natural climate solutions are an important part of the puzzle — including soils — but unless we transition off fossil fuels in the near term, and conserve more energy, those natural climate solutions are increasingly at risk.

Protecting carbon sinks, such as forests and wetlands, is key to slowing climate change, but only part of the puzzle, Stanford researchers say. Reducing emissions is still essential for meeting global climate goals…

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Flowers And Solar
Rob Davis

Farm-friendly solar site management

You have an opportunity to help others understand, and embrace, the importance of compatible renewables. We need people to understand that nature and farms need us to transition away from fossil fuels ASAP. And that means supporting renewables in ways that help with farm viability, pollinators, soil health, and water quality.

You may find the slides of this presentation helpful in understanding how you and/or community organizations can think through how solar can be compatible with conservation and farming goals — and how to help communities recognize the importance.

There is an opportunity to help people understand how compatible wind and solar can add to farm viability, soil health, and water quality.

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Solar And Tractors
NREL

Largest agrivoltaic research project in U.S. advances renewable energy while empowering local farmers

The time has come to help clarify that farmland and solar can work together — and become a key tool in keeping farmland viable, and in the hands of farming families.

Jack’s Solar Garden, a 1.2-MW solar farm in Boulder County, Colorado, is unique in that it represents the largest agrivoltaic research project in the United States and encompasses four types of vegetation at a single site.

According to [Byron] Kominek, he wanted the farm to be “a model for other small farms that want to keep their soils productive while taking advantage of the economic benefits that clean energy production can provide.”

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Solar Sunny
hawaiipublicradio.org

A solar energy toolkit for your community

There are a number of communities fighting solar and wind. Sometimes this is with good reason; they can be poorly designed. Yet that doesn't have to be the case.

“The Hudson Valley can serve as a model for how a region can effectively respond to climate change. Scenic Hudson’s How To Solar Now toolkit supports communities in a rapid transition to a sustainable, low carbon region increasingly powered by clean, emissions-free renewable energy while also protecting and preserving our invaluable scenic, historic, agricultural, environmental and economic resources.”

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Car Battery
Pixabay

New recycling techniques set to make electric vehicles greener

One of the pushbacks renewables receive is centered around waste. It's a bit ironic, because oil, gas, and coal don't get the same pushback — yet they destroy mountains, water, land... and the climate. But here is good news, regardless. You could share this.

Researchers in Britain and the United States have found ways to recycle electric vehicle batteries that can drastically cut costs and carbon emissions, shoring up sustainable supplies for an expected surge in demand.

The techniques, which involve retrieving parts of the battery so they can be reused, would help the auto industry tackle criticism that even though EVs reduce emissions over their lifetime, they start out with a heavy carbon footprint of mined materials…

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Solar Grazing Map
OnPasture

Solar grazing: A new income stream for livestock producers

We are going to need renewables at a large scale in the U.S. — and soon. Rather than wipe out forests, we could encourage solar that works with farmland. We need conservationists to help make this a reality. You can share these articles to let people know that dual-use solar can help farmland and farmers.

Utility-scale solar arrays may cover 3 million acres across the U.S. by 2030, according to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). This is causing tension with farmers and farmland advocates, as the panels are often sited on good agricultural land, displacing current production.

One solution is to restrict solar developments from being installed on farmland. But there are other solutions worth pursuing, too. Most large-scale solar arrays are located in rural areas where economies are hurting and farmer numbers are dwindling…

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Wind And Coal
Yale CC / DANA NUCCITELLI

Greens: Divided on ‘clean’ energy? Or closer than they appear?

The issue in contention is whether certain technologies, like fossil fuels that capture their carbon emissions, nuclear, and biomass power should be considered sufficiently “clean,” — or whether they should be eliminated from the American power generation mix for the sake of environmental justice. Conservation solutions are seen as part of the mix, too.

Solar, wind, and geothermal sources currently account for just 11% of U.S. electricity, with another 7% from hydroelectric dams, 20% from nuclear, 19% from coal, and 40% from gas. A host of energy modeling studies have concluded that renewable energy could be scaled up to supply 80-90% of U.S. electricity demand, but meeting the final 10-20% is exceedingly challenging.

The 2035 report by the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy estimated that the U.S. could achieve 90% emissions-free electricity by 2035, including 70% from wind and solar with batteries, 20% from nuclear, and 10% from gas…

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Sheep For Solar

How to have your solar farm and keep your regular farm, too

We are losing farmland at an alarming rate, as noted by American Farmland Trust. Dual-use, or "compatible solar", depending on how it is designed, could help provide needed farm income AND improve soil health, sequester carbon, and diversify the operation over time. You can help promote dual-use and counter what is becoming more of a "not in my backyard" response. Solar can't just go on rooftops and parking lots and dumps. It's going to have to also go on open land. So, rather than cutting down forests, let's ensure solar installations are working with agriculture.

You may appreciate this short news clip from NPR

Clean, abundant solar power comes with a price. It requires lots of land, and in some places that’s provoking opposition from people who want to preserve farmland.

In southern New Jersey, for instance, a company called Dakota Power Partners wants to build an 800-acre solar power station, and the Pilesgrove Township planning board is hearing from local citizens who don’t like it one bit…

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Agrivoltaics

Agrivoltaics works better with leafy greens, root crops

People want clean energy. Businesses want clean energy. Yet, where is it going to go? And how can it enhance farming and ranching, and not detract from it? Solar can enhance agricultural viability—but you need to spread the word and demand that your state, and the federal government, provide the incentives needed. It's a smart policy decision given the shocking loss of farms and ranches already underway.

[Solar] projects linked to agriculture have thus far shown the highest potential when combined with leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach, as well as with root crops such as potatoes, radishes, beets, and carrots. This is one of the conclusions of recent research developed on agrivoltaics by U.S. scientist Chad Higgins from the Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering at Oregon State University…

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