Site preparation costs for utility-scale solar projects are expected to account for 20% of utility-scale photovoltaics installed costs in 2020. Reducing these costs via low-impact development can lead to cascading reductions in other environmental-related costs and risks. Learn about National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Innovative Site Preparation and Impact Reductions on the Environment (InSPIRE) study and state-based approaches to co-locate agriculture and solar photovoltaics.
NREL’s Jordan Macknick, Fresh Energy’s Rob Davis, and SoCore Energy’s Laura Caspari will present an update on research and work related to co-location of agriculture and solar.
Led by Macknick, NREL’s InSPIRE project will comprehensively assess baseline costs, as well as strategies for cost reduction and for environmental impact reduction for solar technologies in three areas:
- Low-impact site preparation practices for ground-mounted solar projects,
- Siting of solar projects on contaminated and marginal lands, and
- Co-location of solar projects on agricultural lands.
In addition, the project is exploring ways to improve environmental compensatory mitigation planning with Argonne National Laboratory.
A 2015 White House report highlighted the importance to the nation’s economy and food security of bees and other insects that pollinate crops.
Davis and Caspari will review the agricultural benefits of pollinator habitat—a low-growing meadow mix of grasses and flowers—and share best practices in seeding pollinator-friendly vegetation under and around ground-mounted solar arrays. Discussion will include a review of a recent economic analysis showing increased yields for 10 major crops as a result of nearby pollinator habitat and a review of specific large-scale solar projects in multiple states.
In 2016, Fresh Energy—in partnership with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Farmers Union, and a coalition of agricultural, business, and conservation leaders—established a statewide standard for pollinator-friendly solar. A long-time agricultural leader and the fourth-largest agricultural exporting state in the U.S., Minnesota is scaling from less than 20 megawatts of solar capacity statewide in early 2016 to 700–1,000 megawatts by late 2017. The discussion will include the applicability and adaptability of Minnesota’s standard for pollinator-friendly solar to other states.
Thursday, January 12, 12 PM CST
Co-Location of Agriculture and Solar PV