This thesis lays the groundwork for the broader realization of agrivoltaics by identifying the socio-political opportunities and barriers to development. Combining theoretical frameworks on technology diffusion and social acceptance of renewable energy with expert perspectives, this work seeks to understand, address, and accommodate the role of society and policy in combining solar energy and food systems. Three empirical studies are presented that first investigate the impediments to farmer adoption of the technology, then explore the challenges to development from the perspective of solar industry professionals, and conclude by outlining a comprehensive legal framework for agrivoltaics in the U.S. The findings identify the key socio-political opportunities for agrivoltaics include: the retention of agricultural land and rural interests, and increased local level acceptance of solar development. The key barriers include: ensuring long term agricultural productivity is not compromised, and subnational localized zoning strategies.

This article examines prospective challenges and opportunities for scaling up negative emissions technologies (NETs) through examining how decarbonization practices are evolving in one particular landscape: the Imperial Valley in southeast California, a desert landscape engineered for industrial agriculture.

The contributions of this special issue address at least one political phenomenon in the context of sustainable energy transformation: populism, post-truth politics, and local resistance.

Despite a global push in the development and implementation of widespread alternative energy use, significant disparities exist across given nation-states. These disparities reflect both technical and economic factors, as well as the social, political, and ecological gaps between how communities see energy development and national/global policy goals. Known as the “local-national gap”, many nations struggle with fostering meaningful conversations about the role of alternative energy technologies within communities. Mitigation of this problem first requires understanding the distribution of existing alternative energy technologies at the local level of policymaking.

Wind and solar generation require at least 10 times as much land per unit of power produced than coal- or natural gas-fired power plants, including land disturbed to produce and transport the fossil fuels. Additionally, wind and solar generation are located where the resource availability is best instead of where is most convenient for people and infrastructure, since their “fuel” can’t be transported like fossil fuels.

To analyze public perception of coal and solar energy and support for public policy that assists in a just energy transition, we conducted a mail survey in the summer of 2018 among a random sample of residents in three regions of the United States: Houston, TX, a large city with close ties to the oil industry, Burlington, VT, a medium-sized city that is solely powered by renewable energy sources, and Saline County, IL, a rural area with a long history of coal mining.

The recent rapid promotion of renewable energy technology (RET) worldwide may have led to a greater social impact on local communities, where multiple otherwise-small individual units of RET are concentrated in one place, as may occur in the case of small photovoltaic power generating units, for example. This study examines such a case of the dissemination of innovative agrivoltaic systems (AVSs), a system in which photovoltaic power facilities are installed above cultivated farmland, across Japanese rural areas.

Despite the mature and promising potential for solar photovoltaic (PV) technology to retrench global reliance on fossil fuels, large-scale PV development is experiencing complex challenges, including land use conflict and — as the scale of solar has increased — social resistance, which has previously been more commonly associated with large-scale wind farms. Growth in large-scale PV development can create land use disputes, especially in instances of competition between land for agriculture versus energy production. This history and growing concern over land use highlights the challenge of meeting the soaring demands for solar power while conserving rural and agricultural lands. It is posited that the impact of solar development on land will be diminished by siting PV in a manner that is compatible with multiple uses, suggesting changes in conventional practices will be necessary. The specific intent of this study was to draw insight about solar development from participant experience, and responses indicate that the most considerable opportunities and barriers center on social acceptance and public perception issues. Perspectives about the opportunities and barriers to agrivoltaic development were captured via interviews with solar industry professionals, and inductive analysis revealed that interviewees were most focused on opportunities and barriers that correspond with Wüstenhagen et al.’s three dimensions of social acceptance: market, community, and socio-political factors. The social acceptance of renewable energy is shaped by a complex interplay among market, community, and socio-political factors. While this framework is constructive for understanding the varying dimensions of social acceptance, Devine-Wright et al. assert that it is weak in terms of the relationships between dimensions, suggesting that further research should apply a holistic approach for discerning the interdependence among factors shaping social acceptance of renewable energy. The purpose of this study is therefore to explore the perceptions of industry professionals in the U.S. and consider the implications of the identified opportunities and barriers from a social science perspective. To address global demands for both food and energy, the relationship between critical land uses must become complementary rather than competitive. Because social acceptance of renewable energy technology is pivotal to energy transitions, this study reflects a proactive attempt to understand agrivoltaics from a solar industry professional’s perspective to better understand the significant opportunities and barriers to development. This research suggests that agrivoltaics are potentially accretive to the long-term growth of the solar industry, possessing the capacity to increase social acceptance of local solar developments. While the agrivoltaic concept is widely supported by the participants in this study, popularity of an emerging technology among industry experts may not indicate local level acceptance of a specific development. As new energy technologies such as agrivoltaics transcend niche applications to become more prevalent, localized resistance is to be anticipated and the dimensions of social acceptance, including the opportunities and barriers associated with each dimension, can help inform decision making to enhance the growth of agrivoltaic development.

The innovative Agrophotovoltaics (APV) system technology combines agricultural biomass and solar power production on the same site and aims at reducing the conflict between food and power production. Unrelated to this benefit, this technology may impact the landscape negatively and could thus be subject to public opposition and/or restraining frameworks. The presented study offers a System Dynamics (SD) approach, through Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs) models, based on the results of citizen workshops, literature research, and expert discussions on the technology. A comprehensive analysis of the driving and restraining forces for the implementation of APV-technology and expected or potential impacts reveals influential factors. Hence, this SD approach identifies bottlenecks and conflicting objectives in the technology implementation that need to be further addressed.

With the coming of the 21st century in the U.S., reliance on fossil fuels, in particular coal, decreased while renewable energy sources increased their contribution to the U.S. energy portfolio. The factors behind this emerging trend toward a decreased reliance on coal are many, including economic as well as policy goals. Nationally, support is strong for the general transition to renewable energy, but this support can decline at the local level particularly if renewable energy is perceived as have negative local economic impact, impeding implementation. However, some look at this as part of a transition to a new economic power structure. Due to a lack of research on identifying public preferences for energy production in the United States, the authors conducted a national survey to identify drivers and barriers of acceptance of different types of electrical energy production.