Tag Archive for: Colorado

Colorado Department of Agriculture  
October 3, 2023 

Solar Sampler attendees at Jack’s Solar Garden. 

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.  

Grant applications are accepted until 5 pm on Friday, October 27, 2023. Interested applicants can find the grant information, guidelines and the application at ag.colorado.gov/ADCRO

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. 

NPR recently visited Jack’s Solar Garden, a Colorado farm among about a dozen in the U.S. investing in the colocation of solar energy and farmland.

When Byron Kominek returned home after the Peace Corps and later working as a diplomat in Africa, his family’s 24-acre farm near Boulder, Colo., was struggling to turn a profit.

“Our farm has mainly been hay producing for fifty years,” Kominek said, on a recent chilly morning, the sun illuminating a dusting of snow on the foothills to his West. “This is a big change on one of our three pastures.”

That big change is certainly an eye opener: 3,200 solar panels mounted on posts eight feet high above what used to be an alfalfa field on this patch of rolling farmland at the doorstep of the Rocky Mountains. – NPR

Now, Kominek sells renewable energy back into the local power grid.

As much of the western U.S. has been plagued by a 22-year megadrought, NPR reports that agrisolar is gaining momentum.

“Around the western US, water is the reason to go to war,” says Greg Barron-Gafford, a University of Arizona professor who is considered one of the country’s foremost experts in the field.

“Water is the reason we have to have real big arguments about where we’re going to get our food from in the future,” he says.

Barron-Gafford’s research in the Arizona desert showed some crops grown underneath solar panels needed 50% less water. He and other scientists have their eyes on the infrastructure bill and are pushing to get some of the estimated $300 million included in it for new solar projects to go toward agrivoltaics.

“If you really want to build infrastructure in a way that is not going to compete with food and could actually take advantage of our dwindling resources in terms of water in a really efficient way, this is something to look at,” Barron-Gafford says. – NPR

Greg Barron-Gafford is among more than 30 partners of NCAT’s AgriSolar Clearinghouse.

Listen to the story, here.