- DOE has approved $8 million funding for 6 agrivoltaic projects to create replicable models that can reduce land-use conflicts
- The overarching aim is to provide economic avenues to farmers, the solar industry and create replicable models for this segment
- Projects selected will aim to also identify barriers to agrivoltaics, provide training programs for farmers and also study the impacts of this model on soil and local community health
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 6 agrivoltaic projects for a total of $8 million funding with an aim to increase access to solar energy in the country and also create economic opportunities for farmers.
Funding has been approved under the Foundational Agrivoltaic Research for Megawatt Scale (FARMS) program through which the administration seeks to develop ‘replicable’ models for agrivoltaics that can not only provide economic avenues, but also reduce land-use conflicts.
The department says it targets to make agrivoltaic practices easier to adopt, lowering costs and maximizing benefits for farmers, rural communities and the solar industry.
Winners and winning projects are as follows:
- $1.6 million for Iowa State University to study horticulture and beekeeping at solar sites, and provide agrivoltaics training programs for farmers and other stakeholders.
- $1.6 million for Rutgers University to conduct crop and grazing trials at 2 solar array testbeds and create a regional agrivoltaics network for agricultural extension staff in the Northeast, starting with Delaware State University.
- $500,000 for Solar and Storage Industries Institute to partner with agriculture and utility sectors to identify barriers to implement agrivoltaics and produce case studies and guides for solar developers, farmers and decision makers.
- $1.8 million for Ohio State University to conduct grazing and forage (hay) production trials using precision agriculture technologies and study the impacts on soil health at an operating utility-scale solar site.
- $1.3 million for the University of Alaska Fairbanks to research agrivoltaics specifically adapted to the food and energy needs of high-latitude underserved communities.
- $1.2 million for University of Arizona to pilot grazing and climate-smart agriculture under a traditional utility-scale solar site to maximize energy, food, and water benefits in the arid Southwest.
“With these exciting projects, we’re supporting sustainable agriculture and investing in the technologies that enable us to make our climate goals a reality—a win-win for our planet and hardworking farmers coast to coast,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.
The DOE says these investments will advance President Joe Biden’s Justice40 Initiative to ensure clean energy benefits all Americans. Solar energy is critical to the US meeting its 100% clean economy target by 2050.
Recently another US government agency, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), discussed success factors for agrivoltaics in the country in 2 technical reports (see NREL Reports Highlight Potential For Agrivoltaics In US).