Across the country, farmers, landowners, researchers, and solar companies are working together to harvest the sun twice: once with crops, honey, pollinators, and forage for grazing animals, and again with solar panels. This co-location of solar and agriculture is known as agrisolar or agrivoltaics. In Harvesting the Sun, the leading voices of the agrivoltaic movement come together to share their stories and shine a light on a climate solution that can increase farm profitability, save valuable water, improve the soil, provide shade for farm workers, develop valuable ecosystem services, and increase the resiliency of rural communities.
If you would like to contribute to NCAT’s development of an Agrisolar Center to continue this work, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
https://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/20230919_092740-011-scaled.jpeg14402560Anna Adairhttps://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/AgriSolar_stacked_1-338x400.pngAnna Adair2024-02-26 17:52:222024-02-27 11:35:11Harvesting the Sun, the Agrisolar Short Film, is Available Now!
Students interested in the creative and holistic design and development of agrivoltaic systems that combine the use of solar photovoltaic power on agricultural lands are being encouraged to “Solve This Challenge” by competing in this year’s Student Design Competition at the 5th Annual Agrivoltaics World Conference. The conference will take place in Denver, Colorado, from June 11-13 this year and will feature a diverse range of topic areas within the field of agrivoltaics from a wide range of industry experts. The conference chairpersons stated that the goal of this conference is to “connect the scientific and non-scientific communities necessary for agrivoltaics to flourish.”
According to the AgriVoltaics 2024 Student Design Competition page, “[t]he AgriVoltaics 2024 Student Design Competition aims to inspire students to think creatively and holistically about energy integration across rural and urban landscapes. The purpose of this competition is to provide students an opportunity to develop innovative agrivoltaic design concepts that address community sustainability challenges across the food-energy-water nexus.” Winning students will be able to present their work to the conference’s international audience, while teams will have the ability to showcase their projects in poster format at the Conference Design Competition Showcase.
The objectives of the competition include innovative integration; food-energy-water-nexus; scalability and adaptability; and social dimensions and community engagement.
Students submissions will be judged by a panel of academic and industry experts from across the globe.
Researchers, developers, farmers, and others attending the recent California Germany Agrivoltaics Conference explored ways the solar and agriculture industries can partner to combat climate change and help farms and ranches be more resilient. The conference took place in Davis, California, on November 1.
By Brian Naughton, Co-Founder Circle Two, LLC. This article was first published in the NM Healthy Soil blog.
The sun provides abundant energy here in New Mexico, something I’ve appreciated professionally and personally since moving here ten years ago to work on renewable energy. The sun can also be a bit much at times as seen in my rather disappointing tomato patch this year. I’ve always enjoyed gardening as a hobby, but a few years ago I decided to step things up a bit by volunteering at the Rio Grande Community Farm located on the Los Poblanos Open Space in the North Valley of Albuquerque. I’ve learned so much from the community that gathers and works there about every aspect of growing food from soil health, irrigation methods, tools from small to big, and climate-controlled greenhouses to the changing climate of the open field.
One of my first days volunteering at the farm I noticed a stack of solar panels in the barn and began to brainstorm ways my renewable energy background and interest in growing food might work together. In the course of my research I came across the term agrisolar. Agrisolar, or agrivoltaics as it is sometimes called, is simply the co-location of solar power production with appropriate agricultural land use. This definition comes from the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), hosts of the AgriSolar Clearinghouse, a website for all stakeholders who are interested in finding trusted agrisolar information, funding sources, events, and more.
As I’ve learned, there are multiple potential benefits of pairing solar and agriculture. As interest in both renewable energy and sustainable agriculture grows, agrisolar has the potential to meet both needs. The benefits include producing food, conserving ecosystems, creating renewable energy, increasing pollinator habitat, and maximizing farm revenue. In our arid Southwest landscape, researchers at the University of Arizona have found the microenvironment among the solar panels can increase humidity, decrease daytime temperatures, and increase nighttime temperatures, all of which can increase the efficiency of crop production and solar electricity generation in a symbiotic relationship.
Tomatoes growing in an agrivoltaic setting. Photo: NCAT
I find the broader connections between energy and food quite interesting and important. Sunlight is the primary energy source that keeps our living ecosystem, and our human gizmos, moving. Plants absorb the daily flows of sunlight to convert carbon dioxide in the air into biomass above and below ground. Our human systems largely do the opposite, combusting stocks of solar energy in the form of fossil fuels in the ground and turning them into carbon dioxide in the air, with all the resulting impacts we’ve come to know too well. Our domesticated crops turn out, perhaps unsurprisingly, to be a bit of a mix of energy sources.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have compiled data from multiple sources to produce some eye-opening infographics on energy use in the US food system. The biggest takeaway for me is that on average it requires 14 times the energy inputs for each calorie we consume, and the majority of that input is still fossil fuels. Perhaps agrisolar projects can help shift that statistic towards something more sustainable, but there are some knowledge gaps about how best to deploy this technology.
Agrisolar in New Mexico
One of the six soil health principles promoted by New Mexico Healthy Soil and others is to know your context. This applies equally well to agrisolar projects and the need for location-specific knowledge. While some agrisolar knowledge and practice is universal, much of it is location-specific. Fortunately, there are a few nascent efforts in New Mexico beginning to explore agrisolar applications and develop best practices for our state. I’ve chosen a few to highlight that I’m aware of, but I’m sure there are many more people and organizations that are experimenting with this approach that I have not yet learned of.
New Mexico State University
Researchers at New Mexico State University just completed their first year investigating New Mexico green chile production under partial agrivoltaics shading at the Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center near Las Cruces. Drs. Marisa Thompson, Stephanie Walker, Olga Lavrova, and Israel Joukhadar lead the project that is supported by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program. Mariela Estrada is a graduate student on the project helping to coordinate the field trial and gather data, which is currently being analyzed. The project is exploring the effects of integrating solar panels into vegetable production fields, with a particular focus on the impact on disease, plant growth, and overall yield. This innovative integration of technology into agricultural fields has the potential to offer dual benefit to New Mexico producers, protecting their crops from the region’s hot and arid climate while simultaneously generating additional income through renewable energy production. The researchers are considering additional crops they could study in the coming years.
Chiles growing on an agrisolar research site at New Mexico State University. Photo: Israel Joukhadar
USDA Agricultural Research Service
Another agrivoltaics research project in the Las Cruces area is being led by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. Brandon Bestelmeyer from the Range Management Research location and Derek Whitelock from the Southwest Cotton Ginning Research Laboratory are collaborating on a project titled “Sustainable Multi-functional Agricultural and Energy Systems for Arid Environments.” The project aims to develop optimized agrivoltaic designs for rangeland, crops, and processing facilities and to build accompanying decision support tools including economic and life-cycle assessments so farmers and ranchers can make informed decisions about their operations. The project will be a highly collaborative effort engaging with multiple stakeholders. University partners will support experiments in photovoltaic installations exploring crop and soil types common to Southwestern ecosystems at agricultural research centers and postharvest processors. Government agencies and agricultural stakeholders managing land on which renewable energy is being developed are also envisioned as project partners. The project just kicked off in 2023 and will begin by defining knowledge gaps about potential agrivoltaic co-benefits and challenges to determine priorities for subsequent research in the region.
Los Alamos National Laboratory
One of the first agrivoltaics projects I learned about was in the El Rito area led by Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher Sanna Sevanto to support Trollworks, a biochar production equipment manufacturer located in Santa Clara, NM. Funded through the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program, the researchers tested the effects of biochar on plant growth in an agrivoltaics setting at the solar installation located at Northern New Mexico College’s El Rito campus. Growth and productivity of tomato and Swiss chard was compared on plots where originally non-arable soil was amended to crop growth by incorporating compost and a compost-biochar mixture to the original soil under and next to the solar panels (see photo). The 1.5-megawatt solar installation itself was constructed in 2019 under a partnership between Northern New Mexico College, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC), and Guzman Energy. The array helps to transition not only the college, but also the entire KCEC membership and communities west of the Rio Grande served by KCEC toward achieving 100% daytime solar power.
Community solar offers a particularly exciting opportunity for agrivoltaics in New Mexico. Signed into law in 2021, the program administrator awarded the first 200 megawatts of capacity to multiple solar developers to construct projects up to 5 megawatts each that will offer subscriptions to customers of the three investor-owned utilities in the state. One of those developers is SunShare, a developer of community solar installations founded in 2011. In addition to providing workforce development opportunities, lease payments to local landowners, and electric bill discounts to low-income subscribers, SunShare will be working with New Mexico Healthy Soil Working Group to incorporate agrivoltaic design concepts into their New Mexico projects. SunShare already has some demonstrated experience with agrisolar on a project in Minnesota working with local farmers on vegetable production and an apiary located within the solar panel rows (see Minnesota Farm Guide: Agrivoltaics—Solar plus farm production is gaining ground).
Sandia National Laboratories
The final agrivoltaics project I’d like to highlight is from a diverse team led by Dr. Ken Armijo at Sandia National Laboratories with partners at SkySun, University of New Mexico, Jemez Mountain Electric Cooperative, Rio Grande Community Farm, and my own company, Circle Two. The project started this fall and will explore a novel solar technology developed by Skysun and Sandia over the next two years including laboratory testing at Sandia, field testing at Rio Grande Community Farm and assessing the commercial potential within the Jemez Mountain Electric Cooperative service area. The unique design of the photovoltaic system (see image) will allow improved crop cultivation access with tractors and personnel along with more efficient operations and maintenance over commercially available fixed-framed agrivoltaics installations. The agrivoltaics system will be connected to a battery storage and control system forming a microgrid to power on-site loads including an electric tractor and irrigation pumps. This project brings my agrivoltaics journey full circle starting with that stack of solar panels in the barn and now exploring the potential benefits of combining solar energy and crops in the field at the nearby fields at Rio Grande Community Farm.
Click here to view the original post and photos on the New Mexico Healthy Soil blog.
https://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Picture61.png7201430Anna Adairhttps://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/AgriSolar_stacked_1-338x400.pngAnna Adair2023-11-30 12:21:332023-12-19 16:56:09Harvest the Sun — Twice
Chile plants within shade of photovoltaic panels (right) and chile plants cultivated in full sun (left).
Written for the AgriSolar Clearinghouse by Israel Joukhadar and Stephanie Walker, New Mexico State University
New Mexico has tremendous potential in solar energy production thanks to its consistently sunny weather and high levels of solar irradiance. Presently, the state’s solar market holds a value of $3.2 billion with significant room for expansion. As stakeholders express increasing interest, they are discovering a trend observed in several other states: some of the most favorable locations for extensive solar developments are within agricultural production fields. The concept of integrating photovoltaic (PV) panels into these fields, known as agrivoltaics, has gathered attention and investment.
Chile (Capsicum annuum L.) holds significant importance as a vegetable crop in New Mexico. Chile was initially brought to New Mexico more than 400 years ago and it has been continuously cultivated throughout the state since that time. Its cultivation and trade hold immense cultural importance to New Mexico, while simultaneously contributing to the state’s economy by providing income and employment to farmers and through supporting industries. Producers in the state harvest both red and green crops. Green fruit are full size, but physiologically immature, while red fruit are physiologically mature. The question of “Red or Green?” is the official state question, symbolizing the preference for either red or green chile and showcasing cultural attachment to this beloved crop.
New Mexico State University is home to the longest running chile pepper breeding and genetics program in the world. This initiative traces its roots back to 1888, when it was initiated at the New Mexico College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts, the precursor to NMSU, under the guidance of Fabián García, the first director of the Agriculture Experiment Station. Dr. García embarked on a journey of breeding and selection that eventually led to the development of New Mexico pod-type chile, which is now globally recognized as New Mexico type (NM) or Hatch chile. Over the course of its existence, the NMSU chile breeding program has introduced more than 50 distinct chile varieties.
New Mexico is the largest chile producer in the US; however, since peak production in the early 1990s, there has been a reduction in acreage. The decline was the result of various factors including labor shortages, increased international competition, and heightened disease pressure. Increasingly, heat stress and irrigation availability are adversely impacting the crop. To protect and sustain NM chile production, it is imperative to implement a multifaceted approach to address various challenges encountered by producers throughout the production and post-harvest processes. More than a decade ago, research scientists at NMSU initiated efforts to develop mechanized harvesting solutions, aiming to alleviate the challenges posed by labor shortages. Now, those very research scientists are joining the agrivoltaics research movement. Their goal is to address additional challenges faced by NM chile producers. They are exploring co-location of PV panels within agricultural fields as a potential strategy to address certain challenges. Thanks to a grant from the New Mexico Department of Agriculture awarded to Drs. Thompson, Walker, and Lavrova, research has begun in evaluating how solar panel shading affects the movement of beet leafhoppers. These leafhoppers are vectors for the Beet Curly Top Virus (BCTV), a significant disease impacting the state’s signature chile pepper crops.
Infection with BCTV results in various symptoms including stunted growth, curling and twisting of leaves, and the production of small unmarketable fruit. The specific symptoms may vary based on the plant’s growth stage when it becomes infected. Previous research has shown that beet leafhoppers tend to avoid shaded areas and exhibit peak activity between 10 am and 2 pm. The concept was to leverage the shade provided by solar panels as a means of deterring beet leafhoppers with the goal of reducing the incidence rate of the BCTV while not adversely impacting yields of chile peppers grown under the PV panels. This research was conducted at NMSU’s Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center, located near Las Cruces, NM. Before the first season, four fixed PV panels were installed, adhering to low-impact installation guidelines to minimize land disturbance. The panels were facing east. Although this is not the most efficient orientation for energy generation, it was ideal to shade the chile between 10 am to 2 pm. Then ‘NuMex Odyssey,’ a green chile variety developed for mechanical harvest, was transplanted into the field in the beginning of May and harvested in mid-August 2023. After completing the initial field season, many valuable insights were gained that will be useful for interested NM stakeholders. Preliminary results indicate potential yield and BCTV prevention benefits to chile plants cultivated under the shade of PV panels, but a second year of data is necessary to draw more specific conclusions.
Romaine lettuce harvested from partially shaded area under photovoltaic panels
Danise Coon, Mariela Estrada, Isaac Medrano, and Jannatul Afroze (left to right), measuring harvested lettuce.
Traditionally, chile is cultivated within a crop rotation strategy to mitigate soil-borne diseases. To mimic this rotation cycle, romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa) was planted immediately after the chile crop in the beginning of September and harvested by the end of October 2023. During this transition, the orientation of the solar panels was modified from an east-facing direction to a south-facing one. The shift in panel orientation served two primary purposes: 1) During the chile growing season, shading between 10 am and 2 pm was essential to deter beetleaf hoppers. As the crop changed to romaine lettuce, this shade was no longer necessary and 2) With the advent of cooler mornings in September and October, increasing the morning sunlight became imperative to warm the plants effectively. This transition prompted a crucial consideration in the fundamental objective of each agrivoltaics site. Should it aim to maximize energy generation or crop production?
Our present objectives include conducting a repeat of both these studies next year and sharing research outcomes with the public. Alongside our ongoing research, we are actively pursuing funding to broaden our investigations. This expansion will encompass flavor and nutrient analysis of the crops, various vegetable types and varieties, optimal irrigation designs, as well as further explorations into pest and diseases with agrivoltaic systems in New Mexico.
Photos courtesy of Israel Joukhadar.
https://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Lettuce-Harvest-Team_2023-edited.jpg15221141Anna Adairhttps://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/AgriSolar_stacked_1-338x400.pngAnna Adair2023-11-08 15:19:372023-11-08 15:20:52New Mexico’s Chile Crop Is Hot on Agrivoltaics
Thanks to NCAT’s AgriSolar Clearinghouse and its partners, people across the country are enjoying local food produced underneath solar panels. The most recent farm to table event, held in partnership with Big River Farms at Connexus Energy, took place September 26 in Ramsey, Minnesota.
“We’re doing this to help create community and show how delicious this food can be that’s grown underneath solar panels,” NCAT Energy Program Director Dr. Stacie Peterson told North Metro TV.
Co-locating food and fiber production with solar panels can increase land access for farmers and strengthen local food systems.
“I think you’re seeing this all across the country and once people hear about it, it just makes sense,” said Peterson. “They hear about the stacked benefits of agriculture and solar, and agrisolar, and they want to do it, too.”
https://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Stacie-at-MN-AgriSolar-Event.jpg240320NCAT IThttps://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/AgriSolar_stacked_1-338x400.pngNCAT IT2023-10-05 12:11:042023-10-05 17:11:37North Metro TV Features AgriSolar Farm to Table Event
To help demonstrate one of the many ways agriculture can contribute to addressing the effects of climate change, Colorado is investing $500,000 in projects that help advance the use of agrivoltaics in the state.
Agrivoltaics is the practice of co-locating solar energy installations and agriculture, with crops or grazing land beneath or between rows of photovoltaic panels. Now, farmers, ranchers, and other landowners with innovative ideas on how to use agrivoltaics in Colorado will have a chance to apply for funding for their projects.
“Adding solar energy development to working farms and ranches is a unique opportunity to create multiple benefits on a single piece of land,” said Les Owen, Director of CDA’s Conservation Services Division. “Funding further development and research of agrivoltaics will support both Colorado’s producers and Colorado’s renewable energy goals.”
Tractor in front of solar panels at Jack’s Solar Garden.
Through the Agrivoltaics Research and Demonstration Grant Program, the Colorado Department of Agriculture will fund projects that study the benefits and tradeoffs of agrivoltaics in the state.
Grant funding proposals can cover a variety of projects, including:
construction of agrivolatic systems
expansion of existing demonstration projects
research projects around the benefits and costs of agrivoltaics
outreach and education projects that focus on understanding the barriers and opportunities of co-locating solar development on agricultural lands.
CDA will host a webinar on the application process on Monday, October 9, 2023, at 1 pm. Interested participants can register here.
Funding for this program comes from Senate Bill 23-092. In August 2023, CDA convened a Steering Committee of industry and agricultural experts to advise on the purpose and design of this grant program. These Grant Guidelines describe the purpose and objectives of the grant program, as well as the responsibilities of the grantees.
This grant is administered by the Agricultural Drought and Climate Resilience Office (ADCRO), which helps advance CDA’s goal of Expanding Water-Resilient Agriculture. Through a comprehensive approach that includes technical assistance, grant funding, marketing assistance, advocacy, and partnerships, CDA seeks to maintain robust agricultural production while ensuring the sustainable use of water resources. For more information, please visit ag.colorado.gov/ADCRO.
Recognizing that climate change causes pressing dangers that can lead to public health and safety risks, Colorado is committed to 100% net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050. The state is taking action across all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, in ways that will not only protect public health and reduce air pollution, but also create significant cost savings on energy, transportation, and goods.
Photos courtesy of the AgriSolar Clearinghouse.
https://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/20220917_153638-scaled.jpg19202560Anna Adairhttps://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/AgriSolar_stacked_1-338x400.pngAnna Adair2023-10-05 09:33:422023-10-25 09:42:42Grants Available for Projects Showcasing Agrivoltaics in Colorado
Sheep grazing at Brookfield agrisolar site. Photo: AgriSolar Clearinghouse
By Alyssa Andrew and Greg Plotkin
As solar development around the nation continues to accelerate, opportunities for farmers to graze livestock on solar sites also continue to grow. This is often considered a win-win scenario as it allows for land to continue in active agriculture while decreasing the need for mowing at solar sites, keeping costs and emissions low.
In order to capture the most accurate and comprehensive picture of solar grazing in America to date, the American Solar Grazing Association (ASGA) is conducting the first U.S. solar grazing census supported by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory between September 15 and December 31, 2023. The overall goal of this study is to assess standardized metrics that can be used to evaluate solar sheep grazing and to further identify best practices for these systems. Furthermore, this census will provide an updated picture of the scale and reach of solar grazing in the U.S.
ASGA is hoping to hear from as many solar graziers, as well as businesses or organizations that represent them, as possible and is grateful for those that can spend a few minutes to complete the survey. We also greatly appreciate you inviting other solar graziers to participate. All identities will be kept confidential.
We are extremely thankful for you taking the time to help accomplish our research goals and recognize the value of your time. Every survey respondent will receive $10 off the cost of ASGA membership. In addition, all survey respondents will be entered into a drawing to receive a $100 Amazon gift card and special gifts from ASGA as a token of our appreciation.
Thank you again for your participation. We look forward to sharing our results with the solar grazing community in 2024. If you have any questions, please reach out to Alyssa Andrew, ASGA Project Coordinator, at email@example.com
https://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/FollowTheSun-9542-scaled.jpg17072560Anna Adairhttps://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/AgriSolar_stacked_1-338x400.pngAnna Adair2023-10-04 09:13:152023-10-04 09:13:16Responses Requested for First-Ever National Solar Grazing Census
Written for the AgriSolar Clearinghouse by Sarah Bendok, Growing Green
I am a rising sophomore at Phoenix Country Day School. Since I was young, I have always loved gardening. Every summer, I visit my grandma’s village and work in her garden leisurely while observing other farmers in the community tirelessly performing back-breaking labor just to put food on the table. This love for gardening continued while the images of these farmers more vividly resonated in my memory. As I grew older, I started volunteering at community gardens in Arizona, such as Spaces of Opportunity, a 19-acre urban farm that promotes healthy food choices while allowing low-income individuals to grow and sell their produce. I also have volunteered with Tiger Mountain Foundation, an organization dedicated to giving jobs and empowering people in low-income communities through community gardens in South Phoenix. While volunteering, I saw how much effort and hard work these farmers put in just to take home meager earnings. At the same time, these farmers struggle with worsening environmental conditions and decreasing crop yields. Volunteering at community gardens made me realize there is a whole story behind where our food comes from, involving people making sacrifices to feed our population. I will never forget the smile on a farmer’s face when he harvested 10 pounds of pepper. What if I could improve his working conditions? What if I could decrease the number of resources he uses for agriculture so he can earn more profit? What if I could plant the seeds of a more equitable, sustainable agricultural system in South Phoenix?
Workers rely only on their crops for food and income at the community gardens where I have volunteered. Since they do not have the money for the same technologies that large-scale farms have, they depend on their natural resources to help them grow their crops through agroforestry and other natural practices. Instead of destroying the biodiversity to expand their farms, they integrate different trees, shrubs, and other plants to improve soil quality, reduce water use, and use them as natural pesticides to drive insects and other pests away. By integrating these natural tools, they could increase their crop yield. Working at these gardens and learning how they grow their crops, I became interested in how we can apply these concepts to all farms and expand the use of widespread and futuristic, sustainable technologies.
University of Arizona graduate student Nesrine Rouini (left) and Sarah Bendok at Biosphere 2’s agrivoltaic solar array. Photo: NCAT
This interest made me want to contribute to making agriculture more sustainable, especially at the community gardens where I have volunteered. So, I created a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Growing Green to help fund and implement eco-friendly technologies at these farms. Our primary goal at Growing Green is to promote technologies at the intersection of agriculture and sustainability. One of the projects I have been working on through Growing Green is creating an agrivoltaics system at Spaces of Opportunity. I reached out to AgriSolar Clearinghouse, which allowed me to be in their peer-to-peer mentoring program by connecting me with Professor Greg Barron-Gafford and his team from the University of Arizona, Nesrine Rouini, and Alyssa Salazar. They have provided me with mentorship on the design of the agrivoltaics system and phenology data collection. In addition, they invited me to an agrivoltaics farm-to-table event at Biosphere 2, where I presented my project to the attendees and could sample dishes prepared with the vegetables grown under solar panels. The food was amazing, and the vegetables did not taste any different from the ones that are not grown with agrivoltaics. Separately, I have worked with Fundusol LLC, which has also helped me design the agrivoltaics system by entering the location of the system and crops to be planted into their proprietary algorithm to determine the optimal angle and spacing of the solar panels. Because of these mentorships, I have been able to teach everything I learned to farmers, solar developers, and others in my community about the benefits agrivoltaics and the significant and positive changes it could bring if implemented.
To build this 5-KW agrivoltaic system, I connected with FOREnergy and Titan Solar for the installation of the solar array. In June, we had the site surveyed and are in the process of submitting permits to the City of Phoenix. The anticipated cost of this project is $20,000, and I am working on getting donations to be able to finance this project through community events, presentations, grants, and my website.
Site survey with members of Spaces of Opportunity, Titan Solar, and Sarah Bendok to map out the system. Photo: Growing Green
Separately, I was able to build a smaller agrivoltaics system over a raised garden bed at Spaces of Opportunity with donations from different local organizations to educate the community on the benefits of agrivoltaics while doing small-scale research. I have planted two types of cherry tomatoes and chiltepin peppers in this bed, but I plan to test crops native to Arizona in this location later on. I am also in the process of building another agrivoltaics raised garden bed at Garden of Tomorrow. There, I hope to plant a variety of crops that have not yet been tested with agrivoltaics to be able to continue to learn about which crops benefit from this technology. Although these beds are small-scale, I have started collecting data and educating the community on agrivoltaics by involving adult volunteers from the Desert Botanical Garden and employees from Tiger Mountain Foundation. I have connected with teachers from a low-income school near Spaces of Opportunity to engage students on these projects to help them learn more about sustainability within farming and renewable energy.
Dan Mullaney from FOREnergy and Sarah Bendok installing the garden bed solar panel at Spaces of Opportunity. Photo: Growing Green
Without the guidance and support of Stacie Peterson and Anna Adair from AgriSolar Clearinghouse, I would not have been able to come this far with my projects. I am very grateful for the opportunities and connections they have provided me with and hope to continue to promote agrivoltaics alongside them.
If you would like to support, partner with, or collaborate on this initiative, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website.
https://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/IMG_0306.jpeg1025768Anna Adairhttps://www.agrisolarclearinghouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/AgriSolar_stacked_1-338x400.pngAnna Adair2023-07-26 08:48:102023-07-26 09:21:40Growing Green Brings Agrivoltaics to Community Gardens in Arizona
Helping people build resilient communities through local and sustainable solutions that reduce poverty, strengthen self-reliance, and protect natural resources.
To learn more about NCAT and its mission, please visit: WWW.NCAT.ORG.
This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) under the Solar Energy Technologies Office Award Number DE-EE0009372.
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