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The Social Dimensions of a Technological Innovation: Agrivoltaics in the U.S.

This thesis lays the groundwork for the broader realization of agrivoltaics by identifying the socio-political opportunities and barriers to development. Combining theoretical frameworks on technology diffusion and social acceptance of renewable energy with expert perspectives, this work seeks to understand, address, and accommodate the role of society and policy in combining solar energy and food systems. Three empirical studies are presented that first investigate the impediments to farmer adoption of the technology, then explore the challenges to development from the perspective of solar industry professionals, and conclude by outlining a comprehensive legal framework for agrivoltaics in the U.S. The findings identify the key socio-political opportunities for agrivoltaics include: the retention of agricultural land and rural interests, and increased local level acceptance of solar development. The key barriers include: ensuring long term agricultural productivity is not compromised, and subnational localized zoning strategies.