Industry groups create hub to advance solar development on farmland
In less than a decade, solar installations are expected to cover more than 3 million acres of the United States, creating a great opportunity to combine solar energy with farmland to produce food, conserve ecosystems, create renewable energy, increase pollinator habitat and maximize farm income.
The National Center for Suitable Technology (NCAT), a nonprofit focused on sustainable energy and agriculture solutions, has launched the country’s first AgriSolar Clearinghouse to connect farmers, ranchers, land managers, solar developers and researchers with reliable, practical information to increase the co-location of solar energy and agriculture.
“There are tremendous benefits of combining solar and agriculture,” said Stacie Peterson, director of energy programs at NCAT. “As America’s hunger for sustainably grown produce and renewable energy continues to grow, agrisolar has the potential to provide both sources. AgriSolar is a win-win situation.”
NCAT’s AgriSolar Clearinghouse features a library of peer-reviewed information, a media hub with videos, podcasts and relevant news, and a user forum to connect people interested in agrisolar development in real time.
“The AgriSolar Clearinghouse will present a platform open to all Americans to share the nationwide efforts for agricultural integration in solar installations,” said Lexie Hain, executive director of the American Solar Grazing Association. “The exciting thing for us at ASGA is that the AgriSolar Clearinghouse will reinforce a thoughtful and trusted approach to expanding America’s solar and farmland efforts.”
The project group of more than 30 partners and stakeholders representing private companies, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, national energy labs, the Smithsonian and universities will be a key ingredient in supporting the expansion of agrosolar developments across the country.
NCAT’s AgriSolar Clearinghouse is funded by a three-year $2.03 million partnership agreement with the US Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability, and domestic benefits of on-grid solar technologies.
“NCAT and our partners are well positioned to help solar developers and farmers connect to get the most out of the co-localization of solar panels and farmland,” said NCAT Director Steve Thompson. “For 45 years, NCAT has been a trusted broker of practical information to advance locally grown and sustainable agricultural and energy solutions.”
News release from National Center for Appropriate Technology