Clean Technica | By: Steve Hanley | GPE – December 22, 2017:

There is an ongoing struggle going on between solar developers and farmers. Land that is best for solar installations are often well suited to growing crops or raising animals. Some experiments are being conducted to bridge the needs of both energy producers and agriculture, such as the one conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute For Solar Energy Systems in Germany. It mounts solar panels on racks high enough to allow normal agricultural activities beneath them. The Fraunhofer researchers say their system greatly increases the productivity of any given parcel of land.

Originally published December 20, 2017: Other researchers at UC-Riverside and UC-Davis looked at the problem from a different perspective.

They examined non-traditional solar panel placement in California’s Central Valley, a place where food production, urban development, and conservation measures compete for available land.

In a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, Michael Allen, a professor emeritus of plant pathology and biology at UC Riverside says many existing solar farms are built in areas where they encroach on natural or agricultural lands already under threat from urban sprawl.

“When a piece of land is developed for a solar installation, it is very unlikely to be reverted into agricultural land, even when the lease to the solar company eventually runs out. That’s because flattening and compacting the land, as well as the long-term application of herbicides to keep the site clear of weeds, spoils the land for future farming,”

Allen says. “For this reason, it is important that we explore alternative sites for new developments as the industry continues to grow.”

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