Indiana communities can now voluntarily adopt regulations qualifying them as solar and wind-ready communities, according to a recent news story by PV Magazine. This change is expected to create thousands of jobs in the clean energy industry, cut development times, and lower overall costs. 

Sean Brady, Clean Grid Alliance’s State Policy Manager, told PV Magazine, “We hope that counties in Indiana will use these new standards, but if not, we look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders to explore ways to grow the state’s energy economy.” Indiana is expected to increase its solar capacity to 6.75 GWs in the next five years, according to the story. Roughly 4,657 MW of clean energy is in the advanced stages of development in Indiana, and 1,218 MW under construction, according to the American Clean Power Association. 

To learn more about Indiana’s clean power development and the new law it passed to support renewable development, read the PV Magazine  here.  

Massachusetts Farmer Identifies Agrivoltaic Benefits 

Northfield, Massachusetts, farmer Jesse Robertson-Dubois is identifying benefits of integrating agrivoltaics into farm operations, according to a news release by the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Dubois elaborates on the misconceptions that solar integration into farmland destroys the land and that developer’s “prey” on landowners. Dubois says that not only does this sound silly to farmers, but  agrivoltaic system designs could be “incubators of agricultural innovation and economic development,” according to the news release. Read more about the discussion here

Delhi-Based Solar Developer Secures $1 Million in Funding  

Oorja, a Delhi-based solar provider, has secured $1 million in seed funding for agrisolar project development in India, according to a news report by Mercom. The funding comes from Schneider Energy Access Asia and is expected to develop 121 solar projects in 2022 and save around 200 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by December 2022, according to the report. Read more about the funding here.   

Solar System Successfully Grows Crops Using Hydrocell 

According to a report by ScienceDaily, a new system and low-cost strategy has successfully grown crops in Saudi Arabia by drawing water vapor from the air while producing electricity. This method is a sustainable strategy for improving water and food security for those living in dry-climate regions like Saudi Arabia, according to the report. To learn how the system works, which involves solar panels placed on top of the hydrocell to collect water vapor, click here

Pilot Project in Netherlands Focuses on Agrisolar Operations 

Swedish multinational power company Vattenfall announced that a four-year pilot project has been approved in the Netherlands, according to a recent news release. The project will study the combination of organic crop cultivation and solar panels in Almere, focusing on “smart solar and farming practices.” Data from the smart solar operations will be studied to improve the results of similar operations in the future, according to a news release by Renew Economy.   

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced a $10 million funding opportunity for “innovative solutions and strategies that maximize benefits and minimize impacts to wildlife and ecosystems from solar energy infrastructure, ” according to a news release by the Solar Energy Technologies Office.

The Deploying Solar with Wildlife and Ecosystem Benefits (SolWEB) will fund projects that will facilitate ground-mounted solar-energy production compatible with wildlife, as well as projects that assess and optimize ecosystem benefits provided by solar energy, said the news release.

DOE anticipates two to three awards at $1.2 million for Wildlife-Solar Energy Interactions projects, and two to four awards at $500,000-$2 million for Ecosystem Services from Solar Facilities projects.

The funding will assist in achieving goals established by the Biden Administration, which include decarbonizing the electricity sector by 2035.

Find more information on this funding opportunity and details about how to submit a request here.

Agrivoltaics have been shown to contribute to achieving energy and food goals simultaneously through combining agricultural production with energy production, according to a recent report by Clean Technica. The report finds that global agrivoltaic energy production has grown from 5MW in 2012 to 2,900 MW in 2020.

The diverse options available through agrivoltaics can create opportunities for community interests, can reduce land use conflicts, and increase the economic value of farms using agrivoltaic systems, according to the report. A recent study conducted by Oregon State University estimates that the U.S. could meet renewable energy goals while saving water and creating a sustainable food system by converting just one percent of American farmland to agrivoltaics.

The report highlights multiple benefits for solar developers utilizing agrivoltaics. These benefits include reduced installation costs, increased PV performance, building closer links with agricultural land, reduced upfront risk, reduced legal risk and marketing opportunities. Land managers may also benefit from developing agrivoltaics by potentially extending growing seasons and water-use reduction, according to the report.

 To learn more about the details of each of these identified benefits, read the article here.

Trials Reveal benefits of Utilizing Agrivoltaic Systems

Research trials conducted by a collaboration between the University of Sheffield, World Agroforestry and the Latia Agripreneurship Institute have shown that agrivoltaic practices result in larger crops and reduced water loss, according to a recent report by The Guardian. The report explains that solar panels located above the crops can aid people with limited land resources by doubling the land’s output through cultivating food and generating power at the same time.

The “Mother of All” Agrivoltaic Projects Moves Forward in California

A report by Clean Technica has announced that the “Mother of All” agrivoltaic projects, Project Nexus, is scheduled to begin in California. The project includes constructing solar canopies over irrigation canals, which will highlight benefits of the symbiotic relationship between energy and water management. According to the report, the project could save 63 billion gallons of water per year, enough water to meet the irrigation demands of 50,000 acres of agricultural land.

Winners of Iberdrola Energy Contest Announced

Iberdrola, an energy company located in Spain, has announced the winners of its international Perseo startup program contest. The winners are the France-based companies Itk and Ombrea, Italian software company Techedge, and EcoEnergias del Guadiana, according to PV Magazine’s recent news release. The contest aimed to identify innovative approaches to combining agriculture, horticulture, livestock, fish-farming, and beekeeping with solar PV operations, according to the news release.

Connecticut’s Greenskies Solar Facilities Approved to Expand Agrivoltaics Operations

Two of Connecticut’s Greenskies Clean Energy solar facilities have been approved by the Connecticut Siting Council to move forward with expanding their agrivoltaic practices, according to a news report by PV Magazine. The solar farms are in East Windsor, CT and Orange, CT. The East Windsor farm will begin grazing sheep under solar panels, and the farm in Orange will grow organic vegetables between row of the solar modules.

French President Identifies Solar as Solution to Reach Energy Goals

French president Emmanuel Macron recently identified solar and agrivoltaics as a solution to reach France’s energy goals by 2050, according to PV Magazine. France aims to produce 100GW by 2050 and identifies agrivoltaics as one of the “three pillars” of solar development in the country. The goal of producing 100GW by 2050 means roughly 5 GW of annual installations need to be completed.

Greenbacker Capital Invests in Solar Development

Greenbacker Capital has announced that it will be investing in a California-based solar developer, Noria Energy, according to a recent report. The investment will assist Noria in scaling solar projects that are both ground-mounted and floating solar arrays, known as floatovoltaics. Noria hosts solar operations in both Latin America and the United States.

Solar Powered Canals to be Tested in California

Project Nexus was recently approved by California’s Turlock Irrigation District to move forward with constructing the nation’s first solar panels over water canals. This project will assist California in reaching the state’s decarbonization goals by 2030. The project is based on research conducted by a University of California graduate student and commissioned by the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, UC Water, and Solar Aquagrid, according to a recent UC Merced article

Solar-Powered Oyster Barge Sets Sail in Chesapeake Bay

A solar-powered oyster barge is now operating in Chesapeake Bay to assist in the restoration of Chesapeake Bay’s aquaculture. The barge will grow oysters that will be used for filtering water in other areas of the bay. The new barge features 12 solar panels that generate roughly 24 kilowatt-hours of energy each day, according to this report. Solar Oysters, the partnership between Maritime Applied Physics Corporation (MAPS) and the Ecologix Group, Inc. that made the solar barge possible, plans to develop more barges in the future that will grow oysters fit for consumption.

Eden Renewables, a New York solar developer, is taking action to support local agriculture by developing eight new pollinator-friendly solar farms in Schodack, Schaghticoke, Glen, and Claverack. Construction is expected to be completed around July 2022.

The solar farms will be a huge benefit to pollinators. More than 35 million native grasses and wildflowers, all pollinator-friendly, will be used as ground cover for each 35-acre site. This amounts to a total of 280 acres being used for biodiversity and ecological enhancement, according to a Eden Renewables press release.

Eden’s community solar farms are a great example of how land can be used for multiple purposes – generating clean power, providing wildlife habitats, pollinator services, and producing food with sheep grazing and beehives making honey. Soon there should be butterflies fluttering, birds singing and bees buzzing around newly planted photovoltaic panels, helping local people to save money on their energy bills,” said Giovanni Maruca, Eden’s Chief Development Officer, according to Eden Renewables.

Each of the solar farms will generate 7.5 MW, enough energy to power around 1,225 homes. In total, the eight farms will generate 60 MW of clean energy, powering some 9,800 households.

Eden Renewables develops solar energy and storage projects in the United States, the UK, Africa, with a focus on continuing agricultural use, biodiversity, ecological enhancement, and community and educational benefits.

Learn more about this project and Eden Renewables here.

A new project funded by Cornell University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will explore the economic benefits of grazing sheep under industrial-scale solar arrays in New York, according to a report by The River. The three-year, $500,000 project will focus on the economic opportunities for a farmer-owned business cooperative that grazes sheep under industrial-scale solar panels. The idea for the project came to life in 2019, when Caleb Scott, a New York farmer, and Todd Schmidt, a professor at Cornell University, discussed the benefits and possibilities of organizing a co-op between solar developers and sheep farmers.

The group of farm and energy advocates developing this project are working to prove the power of agrivoltaics by getting more sheep grazing under solar panels in the Northwest. Agrivoltaics is a growing field combining farm production and renewable energy, benefitting both of these industries, as well as local ecosystems and communities.

“There’s very aggressive renewable energy goals by the state, of which they’re trying to do a lot with solar. This is a real opportunity for growth in a relatively small agricultural production sector in the state,” said Schmidt.

According to the report, New York’s 2019 climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, set an ambitious energy goal of a zero-emissions electrical grid by the year 2040.

For more information on the project, click here.

DOE Announces Initiatives to Increase Community Solar Deployment

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) made announcements during the National Solar Partnership Summit (NCSP) addressing new initiatives that will unlock barriers related to the deployment of community solar. These initiatives will assist the NCSP in reaching one of their goals of creating $1 billion in energy savings by 2025. Another goal by the NCSP is to “enable community solar to power the equivalent of 5 million households,” according to a recent report by DOE.

Supercomputer to be Used on USDA-Backed Agrivoltaics Project

An agrivoltaic project at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) is being funded at $10 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over the next four years. Researchers will study agrivoltaic operations in three states: Arizona, Colorado and Illinois. The study aims to address the tension between crop yields and energy production that arises when the two compete for the same land resources. Read more about the project here.

Solar Parks Could Boost Ground-Nesting Bumble Bee Populations

A recent study on solar park management methods in the UK shows that solar parks managed as meadows instead of turf grass are highly beneficial for populations of ground-nesting bumble bees. Solar management scenarios were studied by researchers at Lancaster University and found that solar parks managed as meadows offer the most resources to bumble bees, allowing four times the population capacity as solar parks managed as turf grass. To learn more about the research, click here.

Recent research conducted on a Minnesota agrisolar operation showed that grazing sheep at ground-mounted solar projects improves the health and quality of the soil and  that consecutive annual grazing treatments to land under solar panels realized more benefits than  intermittently grazed land.

The MNL Conservation Grazing Program’s flock of sheep has been grazing under the solar panels of Enel’s 150 MWdc Aurora Solar operation since 2017. The research studied the impacts of sheep grazing on six separate solar PV sites compared to undisturbed control sites.

Soil samples taken in 2020 from six locations were compared to soil samples taken in 2021, revealing a variety of benefits in soil health related to micro and macro nutrients and soil grain size distribution. Managed sheep grazing significantly increased the total carbon storage (10 to 80%) and available nutrients of the soil.

MNL’s solar grazing manger stated that,” More solar means more opportunities for new farmers to get started in the industry. We consult with solar projects throughout the Midwest and the concept of grazing sheep on a solar projects opens the door for new shepherds who may lack easy access to grazing land to get started,” according to a media report by Solar Power World.

The research was made possible through the partnership of MNL, Enel Energy, Temple University, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which also highlighted other potential benefits aside from things like macro and micronutrients in the soil, such as water quality, stormwater control, and healthy pollinator habitat.

Read more about the research here.