This article discusses a 3-year study getting underway to look at how farming and solar energy farms can co-exist.
By doing the research, the partners hope to discover how solar and plant life interact and find effective ways for solar arrays and agricultural lands to co-exist.
It’s long been a point of contention between farmers, environmental activists and the solar industry: whether devoting agricultural land to utility- and commercial-scale solar farms is the best use of the arable land on those properties. A new partnership between Enel Green Power North American and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) aim to find an answer to this vital question.
The two organizations will partner for three years to discover the environmental and energy-production benefits that vegetation can bring to a solar farm by studying Enel’s 150 MW Aurora (Minnesota) solar project. The goal is to determine best practices on solar farms to create pollinator-friendly practices so the surrounding farmland can still produce agricultural crops.
In addition, Enel and NREL will evaluate microclimate conditions, soil characteristics, soil-carbon recycling and the effects of vegetation on energy production.