Solar farming is becoming more and more popular, but by adding more solar systems, means taking space away from crops. So how do you have enough land for ground-mounted solar panels and crops? Solar arrays.
Solar arrays allow space for both solar panels and crops. This energy-generating twofer has the potential to be the new farming wave.
What are Solar Arrays?
Solar arrays are solar panels that are lifted a few feet off the ground. This allows for crops to grow up the lifted solar panel and also allows for sheep and other animals to graze the field. The land under the panels can also be used as a pollinator habitat; which is something new called agro voltaics.
Researchers have found that allowing crops to grow underneath solar panels may help improve solar cell efficiency because they create a cooling microclimate.
Solar farming has caught the attention of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and they are finding new ways to protect farmland against utility-scale solar farms. If you still have questions about solar energy and farming, check out the “Farmer’s Guide to Going Solar.”
The ultimate goal of using solar equipment to farm is to create a more sustainable farm economy and to create a new generation of farmers.
Grafton, Massachusetts is launching a new solar project, led by Bluewave Solar. Bluewave adopted agro voltaic early on and works with the University of Massachusetts and administers The Smart Program and other solar initiatives. Working with Bluewave includes a tool for solar arrays to aid with agricultural land use planning.
The Grafton project has 12 acres for animals to graze and two acres for growing vegetables. The solar arrays in this project will be raised off the ground at about 10 feet and every other third solar panel will be removed to allow for adequate sunlight.
The Grafton farm was run by the same family for more than 10 years until the money stopped coming in. Now, with their new solar array, the land will be back in production for the first time in 20 years.
Solar Arrays are In
Solar arrays can pave the way for more efficient and productive farming. They can be installed in solar parks depending on the amount of space available. Animals can graze and you can still farm as normal on the land around the arrays. This can make all the difference in the farming and solar industry.
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