Tag Archive for: Land Use Competition

The rapid expansion of solar and wind energy projects is raising questions of energy justice. Some scholars argue that solar and wind project development could burden under-resourced communities with negative impacts such as environmental harm and reduced access to resources. Conversely, other scholars argue that project development could be a boon to under-resourced communities, providing local economic and cultural benefits. Here, we analyze the drivers of solar and wind project siting patterns in the United States and explore their potential energy justice implications. We find that siting patterns are driven primarily by technoeconomic factors, especially resource quality and access to open undeveloped spaces. These technoeconomic factors channel projects into sparsely populated rural areas and, to a lesser extent, areas with lower income levels. We avoid simplifying assumptions about the broad justice implications of these siting patterns and explore our results from multiple perspectives.

Solar electricity from solar parks in rural areas are cost effective and can be deployed fast therefore play an important role in the energy transition. The optimal design of a solar park is largely affected by income scheme, electricity transport capacity, and land lease costs. Important design parameters for utility-scale solar parks that may affect landscape, biodiversity, and soil quality are ground coverage ratio, size, and tilt of the PV tables. Particularly, low tilt PV at high coverage reduces the amount of sunlight on the ground strongly and leads to deterioration of the soil quality over the typical 25-year lifetime. In contrast, vertical PV or an agri-PV designed fairly high above the ground leads to more and homogeneous ground irradiance; these designs are favored for pastures and croplands. In general, the amount and distribution of ground irradiance and precipitation will strongly affect which crops can grow below and between the PV tables and whether this supports the associated food chain. As agrivoltaics is the direct competition between photosynthesis and photovoltaics. Understanding when, where and how much light reaches the ground is key to relate the agri-PV solar park design to the expected agricultural and electricity yields. We have shown that by increasing the minimum height of the system, decreasing the size of the PV tables and decreasing the coverage ratio, the ground irradiance increases, in particular around the gaps between the tables. The most direct way of increasing the lowest irradiance in a solar park design is to use semi-transparent PV panels, such as the commercially available bifacial glass-glass modules. In conclusion: we have shown that we can achieve similar ground irradiance levels in an east- and west-facing design with 77% ground coverage ratio as is achieved by a south-facing design at 53% coverage.

With the increasing demand for new sources of energy, solar power has become an attractive solution for the current energy crisis. Photovoltaic systems have been increasingly used in the form of solar panel arrays. However, despite the numerous advantages of solar technology, the energy-conversion efficiency of solar panels is low. Since these panels are stationary, they are also difficult to deploy and transport and are prone to damages and hindrance. The portable system prototype proposed in this paper can deploy the solar panels easily and retract them with minimal effort based on the Miura origami folding patterns and mechanical rotation of the panels. An active dual-axis solar tracking system based on tilt-and-swing mechanism is added to the system to maximize the efficiency of the solar energy conversion. This inexpensive solar-tracking system is composed of an Arduino microcontroller, photoresistors, and stepper motors. The mechanism of the proposed system is fully explained in this paper and it is demonstrated how this portable system can maximize efficiency of the energy conversion.

The objectives of the thesis were to investigate electrical energy use on dairy farms located in west central Minnesota and to evaluate the effects of shade use by cattle from solar photovoltaic systems. As the push for sustainable food production from consumers continues to grow, food industries and processors are looking for ways they can be more marketable to consumers. Not only do food industries investigate sustainable practices within their own systems, they also push their suppliers to explore ways to lower their farms’ carbon footprints. Measurements of baseline fossil fuel consumption within dairy production systems are scarce. Therefore, there is a need to discern where and how fossil fuel-derived energy is being used within dairy production systems. Baseline energy use data collection is the first step in addressing the demand for a reduced carbon footprint within dairy production systems. Energy use on five Midwest dairy farms was evaluated from July 2018 to December 2019. Through in-depth monitoring of electricity-consuming processes, it was found that electricity use can differ quite drastically in different types of milking systems and farms. Electricity on an annual basis per cow ranged from 400 kWh/cow in a low-input and grazing farm to 1,145 kWh/cow in an automated milking farm. To reduce electrical energy consumption as well as reduce the effects of heat stress in pastured dairy cows, producers may investigate using an agrivoltaic system. Biological effects of internal body temperature, milk production, and respiration rates and behavioral effects of activity, rumination, fly avoidance behaviors, and standing and lying time of the solar shade were evaluated. Treatment groups were shade or no shade of cattle on pasture. The results of this agrivoltaic system suggested that grazing cattle that have access to shade had lower respiration rates and lower body temperatures compared to cattle that do not have access to shade. Electricity used in dairy farms was examined to help producers find areas in their farms that have the potential for reduced energy consumption. Furthermore, the use of an agrivoltaic system on a pasture-based dairy was studied for its shading effects on the health and behavior of dairy cows.

Despite the mature and promising potential for solar photovoltaic (PV) technology to retrench global reliance on fossil fuels, large-scale PV development is experiencing complex challenges, including land use conflict and — as the scale of solar has increased — social resistance, which has previously been more commonly associated with large-scale wind farms. Growth in large-scale PV development can create land use disputes, especially in instances of competition between land for agriculture versus energy production. This history and growing concern over land use highlights the challenge of meeting the soaring demands for solar power while conserving rural and agricultural lands. It is posited that the impact of solar development on land will be diminished by siting PV in a manner that is compatible with multiple uses, suggesting changes in conventional practices will be necessary. The specific intent of this study was to draw insight about solar development from participant experience, and responses indicate that the most considerable opportunities and barriers center on social acceptance and public perception issues. Perspectives about the opportunities and barriers to agrivoltaic development were captured via interviews with solar industry professionals, and inductive analysis revealed that interviewees were most focused on opportunities and barriers that correspond with Wüstenhagen et al.’s three dimensions of social acceptance: market, community, and socio-political factors. The social acceptance of renewable energy is shaped by a complex interplay among market, community, and socio-political factors. While this framework is constructive for understanding the varying dimensions of social acceptance, Devine-Wright et al. assert that it is weak in terms of the relationships between dimensions, suggesting that further research should apply a holistic approach for discerning the interdependence among factors shaping social acceptance of renewable energy. The purpose of this study is therefore to explore the perceptions of industry professionals in the U.S. and consider the implications of the identified opportunities and barriers from a social science perspective. To address global demands for both food and energy, the relationship between critical land uses must become complementary rather than competitive. Because social acceptance of renewable energy technology is pivotal to energy transitions, this study reflects a proactive attempt to understand agrivoltaics from a solar industry professional’s perspective to better understand the significant opportunities and barriers to development. This research suggests that agrivoltaics are potentially accretive to the long-term growth of the solar industry, possessing the capacity to increase social acceptance of local solar developments. While the agrivoltaic concept is widely supported by the participants in this study, popularity of an emerging technology among industry experts may not indicate local level acceptance of a specific development. As new energy technologies such as agrivoltaics transcend niche applications to become more prevalent, localized resistance is to be anticipated and the dimensions of social acceptance, including the opportunities and barriers associated with each dimension, can help inform decision making to enhance the growth of agrivoltaic development.

While solar facilities are a viable source of clean energy with many economic opportunities available to developers, landowners, and local communities, their recent deployment has led to a growing recognition of potential land use conflicts. The declining technology costs, tax breaks, financial incentives, and affordability of rural lands have been the main drivers of the recent development of solar facilities across Virginia. However, as these facilities grow larger and more prevalent, they will become an increasingly important component of local land use patterns in many parts of rural Virginia. Accordingly, proper land use planning serves a critical role in ensuring that Virginia successfully meets future clean energy goals while also promoting sustainable and efficient land use practices. Analyzing the ongoing land use impacts of utility-scale solar development, establishing a process for tracking future land use patterns, and providing guidance to consider the best land use practices is the primary purpose of this plan. The goal of this plan is not to undermine the opportunity and potential of solar energy. Instead, this plan seeks to inform solar energy development policies through a land use planning perspective to promote the sustainable development of solar facilities. The recommendations of this plan are intended for the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy and are informed by the results of this research. However, the findings and recommendations for this plan are also informative and useful for a variety of stakeholders. The sustainable development of solar energy facilities in Virginia will ultimately be a collaborative process and the following recommendations are intended to complement the ongoing work of numerous stakeholders across the state.

While solar facilities are a viable source of clean energy with many economic opportunities available to developers, landowners, and local communities, their recent deployment has led to a growing recognition of potential land use conflicts. The declining technology costs, tax breaks, financial incentives, and affordability of rural lands have been the main drivers of the recent development of solar facilities across Virginia. However, as these facilities grow larger and more prevalent, they will become an increasingly important component of local land use patterns in many parts of rural Virginia. Accordingly, proper land use planning serves a critical role in ensuring that Virginia successfully meets future clean energy goals while also promoting sustainable and efficient land use practices. Analyzing the ongoing land use impacts of utility-scale solar development, establishing a process for tracking future land use patterns, and providing guidance to consider the best land use practices is the primary purpose of this plan. The goal of this plan is not to undermine the opportunity and potential of solar energy. Instead, this plan seeks to inform solar energy development policies through a land use planning perspective to promote the sustainable development of solar facilities. The recommendations of this plan are intended for the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy and are informed by the results of this research. However, the findings and recommendations for this plan are also informative and useful for a variety of stakeholders. The sustainable development of solar energy facilities in Virginia will ultimately be a collaborative process and the following recommendations are intended to complement the ongoing work of numerous stakeholders across the state.

This toolkit is intended for state and municipal lawmakers, farmers, and researchers hoping to improve or better understand their community’s farmland solar policies. It identifies key areas of state law affecting how much and what kind of solar development occurs on farmland, as well as farmers’ access to clean energy.

This research explores conflicts and synergies between preserving farmland and scaling up solar development in Massachusetts. 

This article examines prospective challenges and opportunities for scaling up negative emissions technologies (NETs) through examining how decarbonization practices are evolving in one particular landscape: the Imperial Valley in southeast California, a desert landscape engineered for industrial agriculture.