Published on November 1st, 2019 |
by Tina Casey
November 1st, 2019 by Tina Casey
As if the United States coal industry isn’t suffering enough from the slings and arrows of low expense natural gas and sustainable energy, now the cranberry farmers are overdoing. They are laying strategies to piggyback varieties of photovoltaic panels onto their large cranberry bogs. That sure puts the Trump administration in a pickle. After all, the Commander-in-Chief did guarantee to restore coal tasks and do something for farmers, too. Something’s got ta offer!
Solar Panels On Farms
Like other farmers throughout the US, cranberry farmers have actually been harming under the Trump administration, partly due to the trade war with China On the other hand, competition from abroad growers is rising. Growers in China, Chile and somewhere else are benefiting from chances to develop bigger, more efficient cranberry bogs.
US farmers of all stripes are desperate for brand-new earnings, and renewable resource is coming through. Leasing out land for wind turbines or setting up wind turbines for on-site power generation are already shown money-makers. Transforming farmland to large ranges of photovoltaic panels is another choice.
The problem is that both options take land out of agricultural blood circulation. Agrivoltaics– integrating crop-growing with photovoltaic panels– offers a service.
The concept behind agrivoltaics is fairly straightforward. By raising the panels about 8 feet above the ground, enough sunlight can make it through for some farming usages.
So far, one location of focus has been to construct photovoltaic panels on grazing locations and poultry spaces. Raised solar selections are likewise being used in pollinator habitats.
Growing food crops under photovoltaic panels presents some challenges, partially since of the shade and also because the panels can hinder using big machines.
However, some crops can grow much better in shaded locations, specifically in hot climates where the panels provide a beneficial cooling result.
Cranberries In Massachusetts
With that in mind, take an appearance at what’s going on in Massachusetts. In 2016, the state took a long, difficult take a look at the difficulties faced by its cranberry market Solar power was not on the top of its suggestion list, but it could assist.
Last year the state developed the brand-new “SMART” incentive bundle for solar development, and cranberry growers have been among the first to check out the brand-new program’s implications for farming.
Based upon the results from at least one pre-SMART solar bog in Massachusetts, photovoltaic panels can have blended outcomes. While helping to offset expenses, they can reduce berry production in shaded areas.
On the other hand, cranberry vines can still grow under photovoltaic panels. Growers can use the shaded locations to grow vines for resale.
The Solar Panel Wait-And-See
The Associated Press reports that a handful of solar jobs remain in the WISE incentive pipeline, including one that has already been authorized.
The prospects for success are encouraging, but scientists caution that the jury is still out. In addition to berry production, researchers are examining quality aspects including the red-hot color associated with premium cranberries, which is closely connected to sunshine.
According to AP, farmers are also facing opposition from neighboring citizens, a not uncommon issue when farmers seek to set up big solar selections in backwoods. The uproar is fomenting skittishness amongst policy makers, who are currently drifting the concept of decreasing the size of solar projects allowable under the WISE program.
The size restrictions could take some prospective projects off the table, which could describe why the world’s leading grower, A.D. Makepeace, is sitting out the fray in the meantime.
Watch Out, Here Comes NRECA
The Massachusetts cranberry experiment is still up in the air, however there are indications that the agrivoltaics motion is primed to accelerate across the country.
One key aspect to enjoy is the vast network of rural electric cooperatives in the US. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has accepted renewable energy, and it has currently been dealing with the Department of Energy on a “Solar Toolkit” to accelerate solar adoption.
So far NRECA has been quiet on the subject of agrivoltaics, but advocacy groups are already connecting to co-op member farmers to motivate solar-related tasks like pollinator habitats and prairie repair.
CleanTechnica is connecting to NRECA for its insights, so remain tuned for more on that.
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About the Author
Tina Casey concentrates on military and business sustainability, advanced innovation, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s short articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and numerous other sites. Views revealed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google