The concept of agricultural activities cohabitating with solar energy structures

Many critics of the idea of expanding solar farms argue that the farms need massive land, which is also vital for agricultural activities. What they don’t know is that there is a high probability of solar farms co-sharing the land without any strife. Reports and evaluations have revealed the feasibility of this idea in both the United States and Europe.

The agroPV programs will benefit protection by the solar panels from hail and also shades while the panels still serve their primary objective of electricity production. The US Department of Energy states that farmers will receive electricity at subsidized rates if they allow the installation of the solar facilities in their farms. The farmers can also enjoy a continuous farming season without fear of the excessive sun rays souring some crops.  

The speculation that the solar modules could melt away the water in crops is a lie. Reports and studies show that the modules regulate the temperature to the quantity required by the plants. The farmers’ sheep are essential in pruning the vegetation climbing towards the solar panel poles. The critical arguments surrounding the solar industry is the idea of the solar module installations wiping out the land intended for agricultural use.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) states that for the US to 329 GW of solar energy by the end of the coming decade, about 2 million acres of land will be required. The point of concern is the encroachment of these solar projects on agricultural land resulting in the push towards the coexistence of agriculture with solar energy projects. 

NREL stipulates that if solar energy structures can be erected above the maximum height that crops can grow to, then this plan is plausible. Additionally, the erected solar modules can provide shade over some crops, which makes the farmer witness high yield. This coexistence could resolve the land conflicts in states where land is the bone of contention between farmers and solar energy developers.

New Jersey State Senator Bob Smith explains that framers are the majority benefactors in the dual usage of the land. The farmers will receive rent fees for the solar projects that will be installed in their farmlands. 

Nonetheless, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation is keen to ensure that the solar energy developers do not proceed to the quality farmlands and their open space, saying that the introduction of other facilities on these lands will affect their productivity. This agency states that even though the transition to solar energy will minimize emissions, the solar infrastructure must be developed at the appropriate places.

Finally, with the growing agroPV market, there is a need for a study on how the crops can be interplanted together with solar projects. Farmers should try this concept with the PV developers before taking a definitive decision.