Tag Archive for: AgriSolar

The AgriSolar Clearinghouse, developed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is launching a series of hands-on field trips to see firsthand the benefits of co-locating sustainable agriculture and solar energy. The Follow the Sun Tour’s first stop is April 5 at Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona.

“AgriSolar allows us to harvest the sun twice. As America’s appetite for sustainably grown products and renewable energy continues to increase, agrisolar has the potential to provide both resources,” says NCAT Energy Program Director Dr. Stacie Peterson. “The Follow the Sun Tour will visit agrivoltaic sites around the country that are seeing success with things like co-located grazing, habitat rehabilitation, crop production, and cutting-edge research. Our national network of partners includes the world’s leading agrivoltaic experts and we are excited to connect the public with partners like Dr. Greg Barron-Gafford and provide the opportunity to tour his research sites.”

Join Peterson and leading agrivoltaic researcher Dr. Barron-Gafford on a tour of the agrisolar research underway at Biosphere 2. Biosphere 2 is the world’s largest controlled environment dedicated to understanding the impacts of climate change. Operated by the University of Arizona, the facility includes 3.14 acres, with 7.2 million cubic feet sealed underneath glass domes. Barron-Gafford and his team are investigating the potential for reintroducing vegetation into the typical PV power plant installation in drylands. His research shows that this approach may lead to increased renewable energy production, increased food production, and reduced water use. For interested participants, the tour will continue to the Manzo Elementary School Agrivoltaic site in Tucson.

Space is limited. RSVP is required.

NCAT created the nation’s first AgriSolar Clearinghouse to connect farmers, ranchers, land managers, solar developers, and researchers with trusted, practical information to increase the appropriate co-location of solar and agriculture. It’s funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The AgriSolar Clearinghouse features a library of more than 400 peer-reviewed articles, a media hub featuring videos, podcasts, and relevant news, and a user forum to directly connect people interested in agrivoltaic development in real-time. Partner organizations include leading universities, the Smithsonian, sustainable agriculture and energy advocates, the Center for Rural Affairs, and the national energy laboratories.

The benefits of co-locating solar with appropriate agricultural land include producing food, conserving ecosystems, creating renewable energy, increasing pollinator habitat, and maximizing farm revenue.

The AgriSolar Clearinghouse’s free Follow the Sun Tour will stop at about a dozen agrivoltaic sites over the next two years. Future field trips will include visits to sites in Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, New York and more. Sign up for the AgriSolar Extra to be sure you know about upcoming Follow the Sun Tour stops.

In less than a decade, solar installations are expected to cover more than 3 million acres of the United States, creating a big opportunity to pair solar with agricultural land to produce food, conserve ecosystems, create renewable energy, increase pollinator habitat, and maximize farm revenue.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology, a nonprofit focused on sustainable energy and agriculture solutions, has launched the nation’s first AgriSolar Clearinghouse to connect farmers, ranchers, land managers, solar developers, and researchers with trusted, practical information to increase the co-location of solar and agriculture.

“There are tremendous benefits of pairing solar and agriculture,” NCAT Energy Programs Director Stacie Peterson, PhD said. “As America’s appetite for sustainably grown products and renewable energy continues to increase, agrisolar has the potential to provide both resources. AgriSolar is a win-win.”  

NCAT’s AgriSolar Clearinghouse features a library of peer-reviewed information, a media hub featuring 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 for sharing the nationwide efforts in agricultural integration at solar facilities,” said American Solar Grazing Association Executive Director Lexie Hain. “The exciting thing for us at ASGA is that the AgriSolar Clearinghouse will amplify a thoughtful and trusted approach to expanding America’s efforts in solar and agricultural land use.”

The project’s diverse group of more than 30 partners and stakeholders representing private business, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, national energy laboratories, the Smithsonian, and leading universities will be a key ingredient in supporting the expansion of agrisolar developments across the country.

NCAT’s AgriSolar Clearinghouse is funded by a three-year, $2.03 million cooperative agreement with the U.S. 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 benefit of solar technologies on the grid.

“NCAT and our partners are well positioned to help solar developers and farmers connect to make the most out of co-locating solar arrays and agricultural land,” NCAT Executive Director Steve Thompson said. “For 45 years, NCAT has been a trusted broker of practical information to advance locally-grown and sustainable agriculture and energy solutions.”

To learn more about the AgriSolar Clearinghouse visit AGRISOLARCLEARINGHOUSE.ORG.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) will launch an online information clearinghouse in 2021 to promote solar-energy development on agricultural lands while protecting — and even improving — those lands’ agricultural capacity.

NCAT was selected for a $1.6 million cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop the Agri-Solar Clearinghouse (ASC), a national information hub and professional network that connects researchers, technology companies, solar developers, landowners, farmers and consumers.

“Federal energy planners estimate that utility-scale solar installations could cover almost 2 million acres of land in the United States by 2030,” said Stacie Peterson, Ph.D., director of NCAT’s energy programs.

“Under traditional solar development, these lands could be taken over for energy-only production and this could lead to negative impacts on food production,” Peterson said. “However, there is tremendous opportunity for low-impact solar development that is complementary with sustainable agriculture, increasing pollinator habitat, improving soil health,  and  promoting native species, all while diversifying revenue streams for both agricultural and solar operations.”

“NCAT’s decades of experience in sustainable energy and agriculture will enable the group to work as an honest broker of co-location information,” said Peterson.

“Together, with our incredible network of partners, we hope to help promote the co-location of solar and agriculture in a way that is beneficial to both throughout the United States and territories.”

National Renewable Energy Laboratory researchers Jordan Macknick and Paul Torcelini along with UMass professor Stephen Herbert survey the test plot at the UMass Crop Animal Research and Education Center in South Deerfield, MA.
— Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL 53126

ASC will showcase and develop practical, affordable solar-energy solutions through research, success stories, case studies, and multi-media outreach. The project will also connect participants through an online forum, mailing list, workshops and farm tours to facilitate peer-to-peer exchanges and mentoring.

ASC also will have databases that help locate financial and technical assistance, as well as identify best practices, explain regulatory issues and provide policy information.

The Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) of the U.S. Department of Energy will provide a three-year, $1.6 million cooperative agreement to help fund the project. The total budget of the project for three years is $2,030,000.

NCAT has a number of partners in the project, including Argonne National Laboratory, Bozeman Green Build, Breezy Point Energy, Center for Rural Affairs, Fresh Energy Center for Pollinators in Energy, George Washington University, Helical Solar Solutions, Montana Renewable Energy Association, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Renewable Northwest, Ridge to Reefs, Seeta Sistla, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Virginia Working Landscapes, and Wexus Technologies.

ASC is expected go live in the summer of 2021.

The SETO program provided a total of $130 million in fiscal year 2020 for projects that improve the affordability, reliability, and value of solar technologies on the U.S. power grid.

NCAT’s project is one of four that focus on siting solar-energy systems in agricultural settings. The four projects were funded at a total of $7 million. Their aim is to help farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural enterprises gain value from solar technologies while keeping land available for agricultural purposes.

NCAT is a national nonprofit, founded in 1976, with a mission of helping people build resilient communities through local and sustainable solutions that reduce poverty, strengthen self-reliance, and protect natural resources.

It is headquartered in Butte, Mont., and has five regional offices around the country.

NCAT’s team of 35 sustainable agriculture specialists and energy engineers, along with its partners, will develop the clearinghouse. NCAT will develop alternate funding streams to ensure ASC will continue after the three-year funding period.