Solar power occupies a lot of space – here’s how to make it more ecologically beneficial to the land it sits on

As societies look for ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change, large-scale solar power is playing a central role. Climate scientists view it as the tool with the greatest potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. In the U.S., the Department of Energy predicts that solar will account for nearly 60% of all new utility-scale electricity-generating capacity installed in 2024.

But ideal locations for solar development often overlap with croplands or grasslands used for livestock grazing. Typically, large-scale solar arrays are designed to maximize energy generation, without much consideration for the ecosystems in which they are placed.

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New Journal Article Published on Agrivoltaic Systems

Agrivoltaics can optimize the land use efficiency of solar energy by co-locating these sites of renewable energy development with other compatible land uses such as food production (crop production or livestock grazing) and biodiversity conservation through the establishment of solar-pollinator habitat.  


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UI’s Solar Farm 2.0 now a hotbed for new research

 The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s two solar farms have become a key part of campus’ clean energy supply. But the next frontier for researchers is exploring what sorts of pollinator plants, crops and wildlife can coexist with the photovoltaic arrays.. 

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National Grid Renewables announces commercial operation of 200 MW Prairie Wolf solar project in Illinois

Minneapolis, MN (December 17, 2021) – Today, National Grid Renewables announced the start of commercial operation for its Prairie Wolf Solar Project (Prairie Wolf), located in Coles County, Illinois. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) located project boasts 200 megawatts (MW) of clean solar power and is contracted through a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA) with Cargill. Prairie Wolf utilizes next-generation Series 6 thin film solar modules developed and produced by First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) and was constructed by SOLV Energy, formerly known as Swinerton Renewable Energy.

At the peak of construction, Prairie Wolf employed approximately 300 onsite workers. During operation, in addition to new onsite operations and maintenance jobs, Prairie Wolf will benefit local and statewide economies through the production of millions of dollars in new tax revenue and landowner income.

Read the rest of the press release here.