December 13, 2021
Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post authored by Stacie Peterson, PhD, Energy Program Director for the National Center for Appropriate Technology.
Solar developments are expected to cover 3 million acres of land in the next ten years. Under traditional solar development, some of these lands could be taken over for energy-only production and this could impact pollinator habitat, food production, soil health, and cultural landscapes. However, there is tremendous opportunity for low-impact solar development that is complementary with sustainable agriculture. This co-location, when designed and managed with best practices, can increase pollinator habitat, promote native species, and include grazing and specialty crop production, all while diversifying revenue streams and increasing public acceptance. To support this, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has developed the Department of Energy (DOE)-funded the AgriSolar Clearinghouse at the website: agrisolarclearinghouse.org
In our sustainable energy and agriculture work at NCAT, we have a long reputation as a trusted, practical connector to people and scientifically-sound information. We are a non-profit with a mission to help people build resilient communities through local and sustainable solutions that reduce poverty, strengthen self-reliance, and protect natural resources. As a part of this mission, we sought and received funding from the DOE to develop an information-sharing, relationship-building, clearinghouse for all things agrisolar.
Our incredible network of over 30 partners and stakeholders in this project includes the leading agrisolar experts in the country. They hail from national energy laboratories, the Smithsonian, universities, solar industry, agriculture, pollinator organizations, solar grazing associations, renewable energy advocates, and rural policy centers. Together, we hope to promote the co-location of solar and agriculture in a way that is beneficial to both.
The AgriSolar Clearinghouse includes a wealth of peer-reviewed information that is free to download. This includes: current news and events; case studies; peer mentoring; field trips; webinars; podcasts; and technical assistance from NCAT sustainable agriculture specialists, energy engineers, and our network of partners. Our online forum provides a place to connect in real-time with NCAT specialists, partners, stakeholders, and agrisolar enthusiasts. We hope the AgriSolar Clearinghouse will foster an agrisolar community and we hope NSAC members will join, so we can learn from and partner with you as we grow. Please visit our website, join our network, and tell us your story.