Tag Archive for: Best Practices

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry presents this technical guide regarding the siting of utility-scale solar projects with consideration for valuable agricultural land, forest resources, and rare or unique natural areas. The guide is intended to provide practical information for those considering solar development on their property, as well as planning important preconstruction, construction, and post-construction/decommissioning activities.

This guide, developed in Germany by Fraunhofer, provides information on the potential of agrivoltaics, including the latest technologies and regulatory frameworks in this area. It also offers practical tips on how agrivoltaics can be used by farmers, municipalities and companies.

This report by SolarPower Europe provides guidelines to support solar industry stakeholders with information about environmental legislation at the EU and European national levels. It also addresses the potential impacts on land use and outlines key actions for suitable land identification for solar PV projects.

In this document, the Great Plains Institute (GPI) identified existing permitting practices and standards for solar development in the five PV-SMaRT case study states (New York, Georgia, Minnesota, Colorado, and Oregon) and other states across the nation. GPI then completed a “barriers and opportunities” assessment of existing practices to identify opportunities for reducing solar development soft costs and compliance costs, while maintaining or improving water quality outcomes.

This report examines the NREL Innovative Solar Practices Integrated with Rural Economies and Ecosystems (InSPIRE) project, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) starting in 2015. Over the past seven years, the project’s multiple phases have studied the colocation of solar with crops, grazing cattle or sheep, and/or pollinator-friendly native plants, and the resulting ecological and agricultural benefits.

According to InSPIRE research, there are five central elements that lead to agrivoltaic success:

  • Climate, Soil, and Environmental Conditions – The location must be appropriate for both solar generation and the desired crops or ground cover. Generally, land that is suitable for solar is suitable for agriculture, as long as the soil can sustain growth.
  • Configurations, Technologies, and Designs – The choice of solar technology, the site layout, and other infrastructure can affect everything from how much light reaches the solar panels to whether a tractor, if needed, can drive under the panels.
  • Crop Selection and Cultivation Methods, Seed and Vegetation Designs, and Management Approaches – Agrivoltaic projects should select crops or ground covers that will thrive in the local climate and under solar panels, and that are profitable in local markets.
  • Compatibility and Flexibility – Agrivoltaics should be designed to accommodate the competing needs of solar owners, solar operators, and farmers or landowners to allow for efficient agricultural activities.
  • Collaboration and Partnerships – For any project to succeed, communication and understanding between groups is crucial.

Successes and failures of prior agrivoltaic projects will inform new innovations as agrivoltaic projects continue to be deployed globally. This report represents a synthesis of lessons learned from agrivoltaic research field sites located across the United States as part of the InSPIRE project. The projects considered represent a diverse mix of geographies, agrivoltaic activities, and technology configurations. In this report, we have provided a list of features that contribute to the success of agrivoltaic installations and research projects, with partnerships playing a crucial role in both. The researchers suggest future research activities that align with these core principles as well as other approaches to grow agrivoltaic research efforts globally.

Agrisolar is a rapidly expanding sector with incredible potential. It brings together two major sectors of our society and economy: agriculture and energy. The goal of this guide is to draw on past experiences, to take stock of “what works” and “what doesn’t,” in order to advise local and international actors on successfully developing Agrisolar. This first edition of the SolarPower Europe Agrisolar Best Practices Guidelines takes a step in joining forces with agricultural stakeholders to better understand how the solar and agricultural sector can work more closely together, enhancing synergies to advance the energy and climate transition. Every Agrisolar project is unique as it must be adapted to the local agronomical, environmental, and socioeconomic conditions of the project site, and adapted to the needs of farmers and other relevant stakeholders. The most important element to ensure that Agrisolar projects perform effectively as agricultural and photovoltaic projects is to begin by clearly defining a Sustainable Agriculture Concept. Defining a Sustainable Agriculture Concept means assessing how to improve the sustainability of the agricultural practices carried out on site, assessing whether the project can provide local ecosystem services, assessing how it can be best integrated within the local social and economic setting, all while generating clean electricity. Following best practices throughout all 19 areas identified in these guidelines will ensure Agrisolar projects deliver tangible benefits, as planned in the Sustainable Agriculture Concept.

As solar energy continues to become more affordable, many families are expressing interest in this local, clean power source, but are unable to install a solar system at their homes for various reasons. In fact, due to structural constraints, shading from trees, and other issues, about 75% of residential rooftop area in America is not suitable for hosting a solar system. This prevents a large segment of the population from taking advantage of solar energy. The solution to this problem is Community Solar. Community Solar (aka Shared Solar) takes place through the development of solar energy projects that provide power to multiple community members. Community Solar systems are typically sited close to the community they will serve. These programs leverage economies of scale to reduce the price of solar for individual customers. This model allows Southerners to access the benefits of solar energy even if they would be unable to install solar panels on their own homes or businesses. Community Solar can be utility-sponsored (either a utility developing its own program or working with a solar company to offer a program), or it can be third party-sponsored in states that allow for competition. By offering well-designed Community Solar projects, utilities can give their customers meaningful access to affordable, local solar power and tangible control of their energy choices. By providing families more options to lower their energy costs and take advantage of the South’s vast solar resource, Community Solar can create healthier, cleaner, and stronger communities across the region. Community Solar programs also provide benefits for utilities by increasing customer satisfaction, bolstering clean energy investment, and contributing to local economic development. Utilities can take advantage of economies of scale by choosing the optimal system size and number of participants. They can also decide which location will offer the most value to the grid. Community Solar can be a win-win by providing tangible benefits to participating customers, strengthening local communities, and delivering valuable clean energy to the grid. We encourage utilities to adopt the following best practices when developing Community Solar programs to ensure that all customers receive meaningful access to solar power through this innovative program.

This best practices report includes many orchardvoltaic case studies in Europe, including: Albers raspberry farm in the Netherlands, strawberry greenhouses in France, citrus fruit and aromatic herbs grown in PV greenhouses in France as well as land regeneration and an animal husbandry agrisolar project in Hauet-Garonne, France. These projects presented in this report can be useful in the development of similar agrisolar projects in the future.

This AgriSolar Best Practices Guide is intended to assist farmers, PV developers, regulators, and other stakeholders in developing high quality Agrisolar projects. The guide provides Best Practices for Agri-PV systems, PV on agricultural buildings, and open-field applications. Also included in this guide are discussions of trends and innovations in the AgriSolar community. This guide defines the key actions required of all parties involved in project development to maximize the sustainability of Agrisolar projects, from an agronomical, ecological, and financial perspective.

This guide is a compilation of energy and water efficiency, renewable energy, and resilience best practices at United States Forest Service (USFS) nurseries and seed-extractory facilities. This guide could serve as a tool for aiding agrivoltaic operations that include these types of plants and nurseries.