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Modernized Solar Panel Photo
University of Minnesota via CC

Solar PV power potential is greatest over croplands

“Solar energy has the potential to offset a significant fraction of non-renewable electricity demands globally, yet it may occupy extensive areas when deployed at this level. There is growing concern that large renewable energy installations will displace other land uses. Where should future solar power installations be placed to achieve the highest energy production and best use the limited land resource?…”

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Solar Panels
U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]/Flickr

Solar panels pair surprisingly well with tomatoes, peppers, and pollinators

American Farmland Trust's conference in November 2019 on solar and farmland was well attended. They will be posting links to the presentations soon. In the meantime, here is some of the research presented.

In ‘agrivoltaics,’ crops and solar panels not only share land and sunlight, but also help each other function more efficiently.

Big, utility-scale “solar farms” are one important source of solar power, helping complement smaller, less centralized sources like solar panels on the roofs of buildings. Solar farms take up a lot of space, though—and they thrive in places with many of the same qualities favored by food crops. As one recent study found, the areas with the greatest potential for solar power tend to already be in use as croplands, which makes sense, given the importance of sunlight for both…

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Onsite Energy Team
OnSite Energy

About OnSite Energy

We strongly believe in the infinite resource of the sun and the reliability of solar electric systems for our daily energy needs. For over a decade we have been advocating solar electric technologies to Montanans through our own projects, community outreach, and legislative efforts. Our goal is to empower our local and regional community members to choose a future of clean, renewable solar energy for their homes and businesses that benefits our natural environment, our future generations, and our state’s economy.

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Solar Partnership

Solar for conservation

Land conservation may provide up to 21% of climate change solutions if we modify our management approaches. Transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy—and energy conservation—will be critical. How will your land trust promote all three?

“GVLT is proud to have conserved over 45,000 acres across our region. While protecting land from development and fragmentation is the first step, protecting the ecological integrity of our natural resources is equally as important which is why we’re proud to announce a partnership with On Site Energy. What’s the connection between land conservation and solar energy?

Fish need cold, clean water to survive, and rivers need high altitude snow pack to keep them flowing throughout hot summer days. Ranchers and farmers depend on the availability of that water for irrigation, and wildlife depend on the intricate balance of the changing seasons to maintain viable habitats…”

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Can California’s protected farmland fight climate change?

Creating a page on your website dedicated to climate change is a good first step in raising awareness. But you need to drive people to your content: talk about it, post on social media, and share stories. Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) is talking about climate change. How might your land trust do the same? If your land trust focuses on agriculture, perhaps the following would be a good post to share, especially when you add your own pre-text to connect the dots with what you are doing.

“In the past year, the threat of climate change has risen to the forefront of public consciousness. With this growing awareness, many solutions are being offered to avert this crisis—from planting millions of trees to innovating electric car technology to passing state legislation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

One powerful tool to address climate change is putting in action land use planning policies that preserve working farms and ranches…”

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Flying Birds Near Turbines
Madhu Khanna

Wind turbine design and placement can mitigate negative effect on birds

URBANA, Ill. – Wind energy is increasingly seen as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, as it contributes to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated that by 2050, wind turbines will contribute more than 20% of the global electricity supply. However, the rapid expansion of wind farms has raised concerns about the impact of wind turbines on wildlife.

Research in that area has been limited and has yielded conflicting results. A new study, published in Energy Science, provides comprehensive data on how turbines affect bird populations…

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Wind Turbines
Judy Anderson

Small adjustments to wind turbines can reduce impacts on birds, new study finds

It's time to stop the misinformation about renewables and how detrimental they are to birds. Climate change is going to wipe out entire species.

Research analyzed data from 1,670 wind turbines and 86 bird observation routes across 36 states between 2008 to 2014.

“We found that there was a negative impact of three birds lost for every turbine within 400 meters of a bird habitat,” Madhu Khanna, professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois and co-author of the new study, said in a statement. “The impact faded away as the distance increased…”

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University of Arizona

Agrivoltaics proves mutually beneficial

Land trusts will want to draft conservation easements to allow for co-usage of solar and agricultural lands. Technology is changing quickly to allow for co-benefits—and to help slow down climate change. In a changing climate, many farmers find this income critical.

Building resiliency in renewable energy and food production is a fundamental challenge in today’s changing world, especially in regions susceptible to heat and drought.

Agrivoltaics, the co-locating of agriculture and solar photovoltaic panels, offers a possible solution, with new University of Arizona-led research reporting positive impacts on food production, water savings, and the efficiency of electricity production…

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Solar Panels

Sheep get to work maintaining Newfield solar array

Help your community and/or region understand how solar can be compatible with farming—or pollinators—if it is designed in such a way. In this case, it's grazing sheep. In other cases, it can be growing crops or grazing large animals.

As solar panels in the 30-acre array off of Millard Hill Road in Newfield soaked up Tuesday morning’s sunshine, a new kind of maintenance crew was headed out to work: a flock of about 45 sheep. Though timid about getting out of their trailer and exploring the new surroundings at first (it was their first time leaving their home farm in Enfield), the lambs quickly got to work munching down on the tall grass, clovers, forbs, and other greenery sprouting up between the panels.

The solar panels in Newfield were Nexamp’s [a solar energy team’s] first community solar project in New York and officially went online last year…

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Wetlands Sunset
Myer Bornstein

Mass Audubon & climate change

“Climate change requires us to boldly and urgently act to protect the wildlife and people we love. In response, Mass Audubon has committed to achieving a carbon neutral future in Massachusetts by 2050.

Carbon neutrality, or net zero emissions, means that we don’t emit any greenhouse gasses that we can’t soak back up out of the atmosphere. To do so entails protecting and conserving natural climate fighting tools, mitigating climate change by reducing and eliminating our greenhouse gas emissions, and amplifying nature’s resilience to climate impacts…”

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