AgriSolar News Roundup: Bipartisan Agrivoltaics Bill, Danish Solar Grazing, Ohio Agrisolar Project 

U.S. Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill that Supports Agrivoltaics Research 

“U.S. senators on both sides of the aisle have recently proposed two bills to boost agrivoltaics, the double-duty climate solution that pairs solar panels (photovoltaics) with agriculture — or closely related land uses that benefit farmers and ecosystems. 

In May, senators Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) introduced the Pollinator Power Act. Its passage would direct the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to prioritize solar projects funded by the Rural Energy for America Program that create habitat for pollinators underneath the panels. Pollinators such as bees, butterflies and beetles are responsible for pollinating three-quarters of flowering plants and 35 percent of food crops, but populations are in striking decline, in major part because of habitat loss. 

On the heels of the pollinator bill, senators Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) and Mike Braun (R-Indiana) worked across the aisle to jointly propose legislation that could catalyze the growth of agrivoltaics in the U.S.: the Agrivoltaics Research and Demonstration Act. If made law, the act would invest $15 million per year from 2024 to 2028 — $75 million total — toward agrivoltaics research and demonstration projects.” – Canary Media 

“”Agrivoltaic systems within the legislation apply to lands where agricultural activities and solar energy production are simultaneously taking place. The USDA’s National Institutes of Food and Agriculture would work closely with the Department of Energy to establish a network of demonstration sites nationwide through the legislation. Agrivoltaic advocates note that the practice can increase farm profits through the reduction in energy use or selling of energy generated on-farm. Other supporters of the legislation include American Farmland Trust (AFT) and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.” – AgNet West 

Danish Agrisolar Project will Utilize Sheep Grazing 

Danish renewable energy company Eurowind Energy is developing an agrivoltaic project in Romania, a 70 MW photovoltaic park that will combine solar energy with agriculture. The solar park will span 80 hectares, with 119,184 modules, while its projected annual electricity output is about 102 GWh, enough to supply some 30,000 households. 

At the same time, 130 farmers will be able to use the 80-hectare land for their animals to graze, according to media reports, which cited a press release from Eurowind Energy. 

Recently, works were launched on Croatia’s first agrisolar power plant, in a project that will involve sheep farming. Earlier this year, Hungary-based BSD Invest Europe said it was planning to install a solar park with on the Serbian-Montenegrin border, which would simultaneously be used for sheep farming and growing berries.” – Balkan Green Energy News 

Ohio Agrisolar Project Funded by State Agency 

“The Madison Fields project is being developed by Savion Energy of Kansas City, Missouri, and is expected to be completed in December 2023 and plans to operate for at least 30 years. The company is working with Ohio State University’s Extension Service on pairing agriculture with solar. 

The 180-MW solar facility is expected to generate the equivalent power for up to approximately 35,000 households. The project creates two full-time permanent jobs and 596 full-time temporary positions during the construction phase.  

The company has received community support for the project including from the Board of Commissioners of Madison County, the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District, Pike Township and Fairbanks Local School District.” – Solar Power World