Wind turbines

Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Renewables

Home > Climate News > Climate News: Renewables

Agrivoltaics
Screenshot

Friday Feature: Agrivoltaics — farming under solar panels

The University of Florida Extension featured this short video explaining the positive benefits — and challenges — around elevated, dual-use solar for farm viability. We need conservation groups to start advocating for this as they do for land conservation funding and healthy soil initiatives.

With the push to seek alternative energy sources, solar farms are buying up farm land. Agrivoltaics is the combination of the two, so the land is not lost for food production. There are benefits to partial shade for crop production, such as lower irrigation requirements. The trick is to find the right mix to have both productive crop production and also adequate solar energy production. There are research projects in Colorado, Arizona, and Oregon to evaluate this opportunity that is already being utilized to some extent in Europe.

Check out the pros and cons of combining farming with solar installations…

Read More »
Screen Shot Webinar

Solar that supports farmers, soils, water

We are losing farms due to a lack of farm viability. Elevated solar, that allows for growing crops, grazing with dairy cows and horses, and protecting orchards and sensitive plants could become the norm (if we make it that way...). Check out this webinar.

While states and communities around the U.S. are ramping up renewable energy commitments and incentivizing solar development, many farms are struggling. There is also growing concern that solar development could displace active agricultural use on productive farmland, with impacts to farm renters, local economies, and regional food systems. Without an integrated approach, achieving clean energy goals may come at the loss of some of our most fertile and economically viable farmland to solar development.

American Farmland Trust seeks a more collaborative and sustainable path forward towards a clean energy transition that supports healthy soils, wholesome food, and vibrant farms…

Read More »
Solar
Shutterstock

Growing plants — and providing solar energy

We are losing small farms at an alarming rate. Dual-use agrivoltaics could help keep families on the farm and improve soil health. Check out the research from Oregon State.

Access to fresh food is already a problem in many countries, and will likely get worse with more mouths to feed. This is where the concept of agrivoltaics could create a massive change. This farming setup mixes water, energy, and plant growth all in one space. Solar panels collect energy from the sun’s rays; underneath those panels is where the plants grow. The setup takes less water than the traditional way of farming, all-in-all creating a more sustainable way to grow food and create energy.

Joining Ira to talk about the promise of agrivoltaics is Dr. Chad Higgins, associate professor of biological and ecological engineering at Oregon State University, in Corvallis, Oregon.

Read More »
Screen Shot

Federal agrivoltaics research and programs

This is an interesting webinar: increased farm viability, soil health, and pollinator habitats are possible with well-designed solar installations. Land trusts can help advocate for this type of solar just as they do soil and water conservation initiatives and farmland protection efforts.

In this webinar Zachary Eldredge with the US Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) discussed the government’s agrivoltaics programs and recent developments in agrivoltaics engineering.

You can listen to the webinar and download the slides. You might want to join American Solar Grazing Association ($75/year) to stay abreast of research and practices related to dual-use, grazing/crop solar.

Read More »
Monarch
iStock

Climate Change Pilot Project

We can make sure that solar developments are installed and managed to benefit farm and ranch viability, soil health, wildlife habitat, and water management.

South Kingstown Land Trust was invited by the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resource Center (CRC) to participate in a pilot project to investigate how climate change could impact land trusts — whether impacts to our land holdings themselves or to our priorities for preservation.

For Rhode Island, the likely effects of climate change will include sea-level rise and increases in air and water temperature, precipitation, and storminess. The study was funded by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council…

Read More »
Agrivoltaics
Flickr

Feed people; power economies; foster peace with agrivoltaics

I continue to grapple with the climate news, the war in the Ukraine, and how they are actually linked. I don't know if you've been following this line of thinking, but there's a lot of data on what this means. There is also the realization that we can turn this around. Check out this post; I'll be curious to know what you think.

“Amidst the noise, haste, and chaos of modern life there are more positive developments for humanity than one might think. Everyone focuses on the disasters of the climate crisis, and while those do motivate our daily work, we also feel it’s important to highlight the hopeful – the very real innovations pushing our clean energy movement forward…”

Read More »
Farmland
Coastal Reivers Conservation Trust

Land trust installs their own solar project

This land trust got creative. They figured out how to make the funding work. Now they are working to include solar grazing as part of the installation.

Coastal Rivers is working toward a goal of achieving carbon neutrality within the next five years. A major step toward this goal was to install energy-efficient heat pumps to heat and cool the renovated Denny Conservation & Education Center at Round Top Farm. The next step is to power those heat pumps — and the bulk of our electrical needs overall — with solar-generated energy.

We have a prime site for a solar installation at Round Top Farm in the southwest field below the large dirt parking lot by Darrows Barn. The slope aspect is ideal, and the topography limits visual impacts. We also have three-phase power to the site already, which will reduce construction costs…

Read More »
Farm
Judy Anderson

SunCommon financing program helps Vermont organic farmers go solar

Organic Valley, the largest farmer-owned organic cooperative in the U.S., is teaming up with SunCommon to help Vermont farmers go solar — with zero up-front costs.

SunCommon, headquartered in Waterbury, Vermont, launched a program that offers to help Organic Valley farmers go solar with zero upfront costs. Organic Valley is the largest farmer-owned organic cooperative in the US with a footprint of 100+ Vermont farms. The program provides Organic Valley farmer-members with financing for solar and other renewable energy projects. Farmers benefit from a fully-funded solar installation with no upfront costs, and they save on their energy bill…

Read More »
Sheep
ASGA

Organization to know: The American Solar Grazing Assoication

Encourage your local land trust to start exploring how dual-use solar, and elevated solar, can help with farm viability, soil health, and water management.

Want to Get Involved With Solar Grazing?

Well you’ve come to the right place. The American Solar Grazing Association (ASGA) was founded to promote grazing sheep on solar installations.

ASGA members are developing best practices that support shepherds and solar developers to both effectively manage solar installations and create new agribusiness profits.

Read More »
Goat Solar
iStock

The Nature Conservancy tool helps identify ideal solar farm sites in Georgia

We can make sure that solar developments are installed and managed to benefit farm and ranch viability, soil health, wildlife habitat, and water management.

They compared that information to maps of critical habitat, protected lands, and prime farmland. And they put their results into a free online tool.

It allows developers, natural resource agencies, and others to identify low-impact locations for new solar farms. And Gutierrez says the tool finds plenty of them…

Read More »