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Agrivolatics: Two for One – Harvesting Crops and Solar

August 17, 2021

Problem:  A clean, renewable energy (CRE) developer is proposing to construct a solar energy project on land within a rural agricultural area of our community. We have government goals and initiatives promoting the reduction of carbon footprints by accelerating the pace of replacing dependence on fossil fuels with CRE sources (e.g., solar, wind). At the same time, similar goals and initiatives suggest supporting farmers and preserving more farmland. We think that both are important. Do we create a win-lose scenario by supporting one and sacrificing the other?

Answer: You may not have to choose. There is a win-win option. Rather than choosing solar over farming (or vice versa), there is a more sustainable approach emerging. “Agrivoltaics” is a system of collocating and simultaneously operating agriculture and solar energy generation on the same land, helping to maximize the land’s overall production value. The term is derived from “agriculture” and “photovoltaics” (generating electricity from sunlight).

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Christopher J. Knarr AICP

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