Savion’s Utility-Scale Agrisolar Project in Ohio Now Operational 

“Savion, a Shell Group portfolio company, announced that the Madison Fields Solar Project (MFSP) has achieved commercial operation. The 180 MW solar power plant is located in Madison County, Ohio, and is one of the first operating utility-scale solar sites to intentionally integrate soybeans, alfalfa and forage crop production within the array. 

Over the next 35 to 40 years, the solar plant is expected to produce enough energy to power approximately 38,000 Ohio homes annually. The project will connect to the regional power grid controlled by PJM and is expected to contribute $1.62 million annually to local taxing entities throughout the life of the project, according to Savion.” – PV Magazine  

Sheep Graze Under Solar Panels in Minnesota 

“In rural Chisago County, clippers buzz and wool falls like snow as a flock of about 100 sheep gets a haircut. These animals, owned by Cannon Valley Graziers, aren’t on a sheep farm. Freed from the pen, several ewes congregate under nearby solar arrays, chomping away at weeds and grass. U.S. Solar, which owns multiple sites, contracts with Cannon Valley Graziers to keep the land tidy. This is solar grazing: the practice of using sheep to manage the vegetation on large-scale solar sites.” – 

Solar Panels Benefit Crops in Arizona Amidst Dry Season 

“For 31 straight days last summer, temperatures in Phoenix hit or topped 110 degrees, the longest such streak ever. Searing Arizona heat dehydrates crops and evaporates water the state needs to conserve. Creating shade is one way to combat the problem.  

By using solar panels, farmers can simultaneously protect their plants, save water and lower their energy bills – and some are doing just that with help from federal programs designed to encourage this sustainable method of growing. Photovoltaic panels are placed above the crops, harnessing the sun’s energy while providing valuable shade.” –  

Indoor Agrotunnel System Produces Berries Year-Round in Canada 

“Currently in its first full year of operation at the Environmental Sciences Western Field Station, the Western-led project combines a photovoltaic (solar panel) shielded outdoor farm with an Agrotunnel, which is an indoor growing system that houses high-density vertical aeroponic (growing plants in the air) and hydroponic (growing plants in water) hybrid systems that use high-efficiency, spectrally optimized LED grow lights.” – Agritechtomorrow  

Aquavoltaic Partnership Developing in the Philippines 

“The Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), a government-owned entity, has signed a preliminary agreement with Singapore-based company Moorfields Capital Pte Ltd to explore the deployment of aquavoltaic technology as part of the country’s energy strategy. 

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was finalized on April 25 between PNOC President and CEO Oliver B. Butalid as well as Moorfields CEO Hee Meng Chia. The proposed collaboration aims to develop a 100-hectare aquavoltaic project, although the specific location has not yet been determined by the parties involved.” – Solarquarter 

Solar and Sheep Operations Show Success 

“The success of ‘solar grazing’ programs at Arnprior and other facilities across Canada and the U.S. has garnered attention from landowners, sheep farmers and solar developers alike. 

‘Solar grazing creates win-win-win situations,’ observes Kevin Campbell, Director, Development with EDFR. ‘Farmers benefit from the increased access to pasture grazing for their sheep, and landowners benefit from the natural improvements to soil quality that occur as a result of grazing, which include reduced erosion, weed control, improved soil health, and greater carbon sequestration due to the land not being tilled.’” – Agritechtomorrow 

New Jersey Farm Studies Agrisolar  

“Rutgers University’s 170 kW agrivoltaic project on its farm on the Cook campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey features a vertical solar installation designed by California-based Sunstall. 

The farm operates as a production farm, research facility and teaching operation in support of the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station related activities. At the farm, students, faculty and staff care for a variety of animals, including sheep, goats and cattle. 

Results from the project will contribute to the Dual-Use Solar Energy Pilot Program administered by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU). The New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station received $2 million from the state for building research and demonstration agrivoltaics systems on its Research Farms. – PV Magazine 

New Rules for Agrisolar Systems in France 

“The French government has published the long-awaited Decree No. 2024-318 in the country’s official journal. The legislation defines the conditions for the installation of solar panels on agricultural, natural, or forest land. 

It also contains a definition of agrivoltaics and places agricultural exploitation at the center of the debate. The new provisions state that an agrivoltaics facility should not negatively impact the potential of the soil and ensure an agricultural yield loss of less than 10%.” – PV Magazine 

Legal Experts in US Dispel False Claims about Solar 

“Now solar power, and more recently, energy storage, are being installed more than any source of energy ever, and the opposition sometimes takes the form of spreading misinformation from centralized, fossil-funded sources to affect the local acceptability of solar. And it has had an impact

The Sabin Center for Climate Change at Columbia Law School collected 14 false solar power claims in its document, “Rebutting 33 False Claims About Solar, Wind, and Electric Vehicles.” The law school previously launched the Renewable Energy Legal Defense Initiative in 2019, and published discussions of legislation that might slow renewable energy deployment.” PV Magazine 

Upcoming Agrisolar Peer-to-Peer Learning Cohort

“This agrisolar learning cohort will support community-based organizations, local nonprofit organizations, and Tribal governments in navigating the challenges and opportunities associated with implementing successful agrivoltaics projects. Participants will be able to identify and refine their project goals; evaluate suitable technology options; discuss zoning, licensing, land use, and ownership considerations; explore funding and financing approaches; and learn about market and policy considerations that may affect project viability, scale, and economics.” – NREL

Oak Run Agrisolar Project Will be the Largest Agrisolar Operation in the US

“The $1 billion Oak Run Solar Project, approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board last week, will sit on over 6,000 acres in Madison County, west of Columbus.

The 800-megawatt (MW) solar farm will have two 3.5-mile-long transmission lines. It will also be paired with a 300 MW battery energy storage facility and create enough electricity to power 170,000 households. Kansas City-based Savion, a Shell Group subsidiary, is Oak Run’s developer.

Nearly 90% of Madison County is designated as farmland, and Oak Run has faced a lot of local opposition. So as part of the approval conditions, Oak Run will graze at least 1,000 sheep and grow crops on 2,000 acres after the first year of operation. Within eight years of operation, at least 70% of the farmable project area, or at least 4,000 acres, will include agrivoltaics.” – Electrek

Farmers Across America Chase Stable Returns 

Farmers are increasingly embracing solar as a buffer against volatile crop prices and rising expenses. Their incomes are heading for a 26% slide this year, the biggest drop since 2006, as cash receipts for corn, soy and sugar cane are expected to drop by double-digit percentages.  

The shift is a big part of the renewables push in the US: The American Farmland Trust estimates that 83% of expected future solar development will take place on agricultural soil.” – 

Agrisolar Market Forecast to be Worth $10.64 Billion by 2033 

“The Brainy Insights estimates that the USD 2.98 billion Agrivoltaics market will reach USD 10.64 billion by 2033. Increased government initiatives to boost R&D in agrivoltaics is one major factor that may create lucrative opportunities for agrivoltaics devices in the market. Governments across the globe have undergone tremendous initiatives to boost investments and increase subsidies in the market. To achieve net-zero carbon emissions the government across the globe is undergoing a renewable fuel-based economy.” – 

US Farms with Solar Have Tripled Since 2013 

“Solar panels are gaining popularity across U.S. fields. In fact, there are now three times as many farms with solar installations compared to 2012. 

In 2012, a little more than 36,000 U.S. farms had them installed. By 2017, that number had jumped to more than 90,000. In 2022, it shot up to nearly 120,000. 

Successful Farming found some producers were being offered as much as $1,000 per acre to lease land for solar. While crops can net that much, the panels do not require any input costs like seed and fertilizer.” – 

Serbia’s First Agrisolar Project Developed  

“Agrisolar, an increasingly popular and effective solution for harnessing solar energy, has finally arrived in Serbia. Organic farm Organela in the village of Gornja Bukovica has become home to the country’s first agrisolar power plant.” – 

Cornell Researches Solar Farming for Sustainable Agricultural Production 

“Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) established an Agrivoltaics Research Program on Dec. 8, 2023, after Governor Hochul signed a bill to fund their research. 

Henry Williams, a Ph.D. mechanical engineering student at Cornell University, said the research at Cornell University focuses on using the land beneath the solar panels as a place to grow crops.  

‘Cornell pioneered sheep grazing research through the Cascadilla solar farm project that started a few years ago,” Williams said. “Right now, the focus of agrivoltaic research at Cornell is shifting toward crop production and how we can design solar farms to co-locate crops and produce renewable energy.’” – 

French Agrisolar Farms find Balance Between Solar and Agriculture 

“In March 2023, the French government passed a law requiring all solar projects on farmlands to provide some sort of service to agriculture: from improving yields to protecting crops from frost or heatwaves. The decree, entitled ‘On Accelerating the Production of Renewable Energies,’hopes to address a rising call to protect agriculture from an increase in the amount of land being used to harvest solar energy rather than crops. 

The bill hopes to build a compromise — aiming to meet the demands from energy companies to install solar panels, without damaging the yield of land used for food production. More laws on the issue are being drafted, including one that specifies the penalty that landowners might face for not meeting productivity targets.” 

Argonne Study Shows Insect Populations Tripled in Five Years at Agrisolar Sites

“Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory wanted to understand the ecological value of PV solar energy sites planted with native grasses and wildflowers. They examined how vegetation would establish and how insect communities would respond to the newly established habitat. The five-year field study looked at two solar sites in southern Minnesota operated by Enel Green Power North America. Both sites were built on retired agricultural land.

The two studied solar sites were planted with native grasses and flowering plants in early 2018. From August 2018 through August 2022, the researchers conducted 358 observational surveys for flowering vegetation and insect communities. They evaluated changes in plant and insect abundance and diversity with each visit.”

This research study was conducted by AgriSolar Clearinghouse partners as well as Argonne and NREL.

Agrivoltaics Testing on Former Opencast Mine 

“German energy company RWE announced it completed a 3.2 MW agrivoltaic project on a 7-hectare recultivation area on the edge of the Garzweiler opencast mine near Bedburg, a town in the Rhein-Erft-Kreis district of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

The utility said it will test three different agrivoltaic system designs for different crops on both arable and horticultural land at the facility over five years. The aim is to develop suitable management methods and value-adding operating concepts for agrivoltaic systems.” – PV Magazine

New Research Shows Solar Panels Benefit Habitats and Farms

“Argonne researchers have concluded  a five-year study of two agrivoltaic arrays in Minnesota, where the agrivoltiacs movement is particularly strong. They have just published the results of their study in the open access journal Environmental Research Letters.

By the end of the field campaign, the team observed increases for all habitat and biodiversity metrics. There was an increase in native plant species diversity and flower abundance. In addition, the team observed increases in the abundance and diversity of native insect pollinators and agriculturally beneficial insects, which included honeybees, native bees, wasps, hornets, hoverflies, other flies, moths, butterflies and beetles.” – Cleantechnica

Duke’s Florida Solar Farm Now Online 

“Duke Energy is piloting a floating solar farm in Florida – its first – on an existing cooling pond in Polk County.  

The almost 1-megawatt (MW) floating solar array features more than 1,800 solar panels that float on top of two acres of the water’s surface on the pond – which used to be a phosphate mining pit – at the Duke Energy Hines Energy Complex in Bartow, southeast of Lakeland. It provides enough clean electricity to power around 100 local households.” – Electrek 

Vermont Agrivoltaic Project Includes Saffron 

“The foundation for the new agrivoltaic project was laid by saffron expert Arash Ghalehgolabbehbahani of the University of Vermont’s North American Center for Saffron Research and Development, along with researchers Bruce L. Parker and Margaret Skinner. 

The choice of Vermont for this particular project is no accident. Researchers at the University of Vermont have been pitching saffron cultivation as a way to help specialty crop farmers stay in business and preserve cultivated land for future generations. The agrivoltaic program was inspired by the success of a previous saffron cultivation conducted by the school.” Cleantechnica 

Alliant Energy Develops Agrivoltaic Research Project in Iowa 

“A multi-disciplinary team of ISU professors, graduate and undergraduate students is working with Alliant Energy through a public-private partnership to study the potential of agrivoltaics, the simultaneous use of areas of land for both solar panels and agriculture. The team includes horticulturalists, economists, environmentalists, sociologists, engineers and even entomologists. 

The project is the first of its kind. ‘There has been research conducted, but not on a utility scale,’ says Nick Peterson, Strategic Partnerships Manager with Alliant Energy, ‘and not in a public/private partnership with a land grant university.’” – Modernfarmer 

Colorado Governor Announces Agrivoltaic Funding  

“Colorado governor Polis and Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) Commissioner Kate Greenberg awarded $500,000 in grants to seven projects that demonstrate the use and benefits of agrivoltaics, the simultaneous use of land for solar energy production and agriculture. These grants distributed by the Polis administration will provide funding to incorporate innovative technology that supports Colorado’s producers to operate in the face of challenges created by climate change and prepare the next generation.” – 

Sarah Bendok Receives Permit to Build Agrisolar Project in Phoenix 

Sarah Bendok has received the permits by the city of Phoenix required to proceed with constructing a 5-KW agrivoltaic system. The project is expected to cost around $20,000 and is financed through donations from community events, presentations and grants. Sarah is the founder of the non-profit Growing Green, where they help local farmers develop, implement and fund sustainable technologies.  

Learn more about Growing Green here

Agrisolar Benefits Farmlands and Local Economies 

“Smaller residential solar arrays, owned by the landowner, can significantly reduce the electricity bills of a farm, often covering the electricity needs of barns, warehouses, equipment, and the household. 

Michigan State University found that a 10 kilowatt (kW) solar system could save the average farm about $1,880 per year. Other farms, like dairy farms, have a more energy intensive operation and the same 10 kW system could save a dairy farm nearly $4,000 per year. Combined with federal incentives and USDA rural energy programs, farms can save even more on upfront costs. 

Lightsource bp’s Elm Branch and Briar Creek solar projects in Texas delivered two new revenue streams to local farmers. The first was in the form of lease payments. The second was a grazing contract for the farmers’ more than 1,000 sheep. These sheep now control the growth of grass on the site and stay cool under the shade of the panels.” – Cleantechnica 

Agrisolar: The Key to a Clean Energy Future 

“Interest in agrivoltaics is growing, along with the need for land for new solar farms, as Minnesota and the nation shift to cleaner energy. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates 10 million acres of solar panels will be needed by 2050 to meet the nation’s net zero-carbon goals. 

US Solar owns the 1-megawatt Big Lake community solar garden and about 80 more in Minnesota. It’s part of a pilot project encouraging farmers to grow crops or graze livestock between and underneath solar arrays.” – MPR News 

Oil Companies Lightsource and Shell Using Agrisolar  

“Today, the U.S. has about five gigawatts of agrivoltaic projects, encompassing more than 35,000 acres across over 30 different states. While this only represents about 3% of the country’s installed solar capacity, it’s a growing industry, and farmers are taking note. 

Lightsource operates a combined 615 megawatts of sheep grazing and solar power projects, around 12% of the nation’s entire agrivoltaic portfolio. The company plans to add an additional 1,058 megawatts worth of projects next year. Shell is also involved in the space through its 44% stake in solar developer Silicon Ranch. The ranch operates 1,300 megawatts of agrivoltaic projects with an additional 900 megawatts planned over the next two years. 

While there are other players in the domestic agrivoltaic market such as Enel Green Power and US Solar, Lightsource and Silicon Ranch remain the largest players in the space. American oil majors such as Chevron and Exxon haven’t invested in agrivoltaics.” – CNBC 

ENEL and ENEA Develop Microalgae Agrisolar System  

“ENEA and Enel have developed an ‘algovoltaic’ system to cultivate high-value microalgae, ranging from €100 ($106.19)/kg to €600/kg for pharmaceutical uses or cosmetic purposes. This is possible due to the integration of a fully automated cultivation system with a 7-kW solar array. 

The system allows the cultivation of microalgae with a high commercial value, from €100/kg to €600/kg for pharmaceutical or cosmetic use, through a fully automated cultivation system integrated with the solar array.” – PV Magazine 

Iowa State University Develops Agrisolar Project to Study Land Use 
“Iowa State University (ISU) is embarking on a research project to explore the combination of crops and solar power. The Alliant Solar Farm at Iowa State University is a groundbreaking agrivoltaics research project merging solar power generation and agriculture to study how best to optimize land use while providing local community benefits. The array was inaugurated on Thursday, October 19th with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.” – prnewswire 

New Chinese Agrisolar Design Accommodates Farming Equipment 

“Researchers in China have built a 10 kW spectral-splitting concentrator agrivoltaic system that accommodates small farming equipment below it. The installation relies on 128 concentrator modules integrating each an ultra-white and toughened concentrating curved glass (CCG), a multilayer polymer film (MPF) and 23%-efficient interdigitated-back contact (IBC) crystalline silicon solar cells provided by Sunpower.” – PV Magazine 

USDA Joins Great Plains Institute and Big River Farms in Minnesota Agrisolar Project 

Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) joined Great Plains Institute (GPI) and Big River Farms announced GPI and Big River Farms’ ‘Solar Farmland Access for Emerging Farmers’ demonstration projects alongside project partners Connexus Energy and US Solar. As the country and Minnesota both take steps to convert our energy supply to be derived from carbon-free sources, this pilot project is setting out to solve for how solar energy development can be increased while also preserving agricultural land for the people who grow the state and nation’s food.  

Funded by the Mortenson Family Foundation and with additional support from the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and Argonne National Lab, these agrivoltaics projects aim to demonstrate safe and scalable operational practices for electric cooperatives and solar site owners to provide farmland access for emerging farmers inside the fence of solar facilities.” – 

AgriSolar Clearinghouse’s Follow the Sun Tour Visits Oregon 

The AgriSolar Clearinghouse’s Follow the Sun Tour visited the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora, Oregon, on September 18, 2023. The research center hosts an agrivoltaic project, where the University of Oregon studies combining crops and solar energy on the same parcel of land. Event attendees participated in a tour of the agrivoltaic site, guided by lead researcher Dr. Chad Higgins. After the tour, everyone enjoyed a lunch and round-table discussion in the conference room of the facility.  

The research conducted at the facility includes showing that solar arrays could be used as resources for plant productivity and that solar panels on agricultural lands maximizes their efficiency. Attendees discussed details related to these studies during the tour, which also included financial questions and scalability. 

Blue Wave in MA Secures $91 Million for Agrisolar Development 

“Northeast U.S. solar developer and operator BlueWave received $91 million in financing, which the company says will allow it to achieve long-term ownership and management of its portfolio of projects. 

The financing will go toward the construction of five projects featuring dual-use solar development attributes, called agrivoltaics, in Massachusetts. These projects are “strategically implemented to benefit all parties impacted by the projects,” including landowners, farmers and the surrounding community, according to BlueWave. The financing includes a $64 million debt raise with KeyBank, and $27 million tax equity raise with U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance.”– PV Magazine  

Wisconsin Bill Introduces the Protecting Future Farmland Act 

“U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Protecting Future Farmland Act, new legislation to support farmers’ land stewardship efforts as many choose to deploy solar energy on their land. The legislation will ensure that federal investment in rural energy projects prioritizes both land stewardship and responsible deployment of renewable energy to protect America’s farmlands for future cultivation.” 

$500 Million Solar Grazing Site to be Constructed in Wyoming 

“A proposed solar farm near Glenrock will cover 4,738 acres on land bordering the North Platte River, the equivalent of more than 3,500 football fields. When online, it will provide 500 megawatts of solar power and include two battery storage facilities. And there will still be room for the land to support a sheep-grazing operation after construction. 

The $500 million project is scheduled to begin construction in March 2024, and if all goes as planned, will come online in July 2026. The project will be built entirely on private land, and Willox said the developer and landowner have agreed to allow sheep grazing underneath the panels.” – cowboystatedaily 

French Study Shows Benefits of Agrisolar in Water Resource Management 

“France’s Sun’Agri has revealed the results of a test showing how agrivoltaic installations effectively lower temperature and relative humidity during periods of drought. Amidst an ongoing heatwave in southern France, Sun’Agri, a French agrivoltaics specialist, has released its latest findings on the impacts of its technology on water resource management. 

The company conducted an analysis on the effects of solar panels on apple, cherry, and nectarine trees across three sites in La Pugère, Etoile sur Rhône, and Loriol, southern France. The study demonstrated that the PV installations reduced temperature and increased relative humidity for the crops underneath the panels during hot weather, compared to reference areas without protection.” – PV Magazine  

New Bill Shows Bipartisan Support for Agrisolar Development 

“The latest demonstration of bipartisan support for agrivoltaics comes from the offices of US Senators Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Mike Braun of Indiana. They introduced the new Agrivoltaics Research and Demonstration Act of 2023 in the Senate on May 31. 

This bill will research agrivoltaics — solar panel systems that can be deployed over crops that can benefit from partial shading during the day — and how they can help farmers get more out of their fields.” – Cleantechnica