California’s New Places To Put Solar
Non-traditional sites identified for future solar farms; Equivalent of 183,000 football fields of non-agricultural land identified in study aiming to ease competition among farmers, conservationists and energy companies.
Tim Lundeen, December 20, 2017 (Feedstuffs)
“There's a trade-off when sprawling solar farms pop up on agricultural land: farmland disappears, perhaps forever, in return for growth in the promising renewable energy sector. However, what if large solar installations could be built away from agricultural land, eliminating the competition between two important industries? …[Land Sparing Opportunities for Solar Energy Development in Agricultural Landscapes] explored the possibility of developing solar installations on a variety of unconventional sites in California's Central Valley. They focused on this region, which comprises 15% of California's landmass, because it is an area where food production, urban development and conservation collide…Previous studies have shown that solar installations are often built on natural areas or croplands, which takes that land away from conservation efforts or agriculture…The researchers evaluated four unconventional areas: (1) developed areas within agricultural landscapes, such as rooftops, transportation corridors and parking lots; (2) land that is too salty for crops to grow, either because of naturally occurring salts or buildup from human activities; (3) reclaimed areas that were previously contaminated with hazardous chemicals, and (4) reservoirs and irrigation channels that can accommodate floating solar panels…[T]he team identified more than 8,400 sq. km (equal to 183,000 football fields) of the Central Valley's 55,800 sq. km footprint as non-agricultural, developed land suitable for large solar installations. These areas have the potential to generate enough solar energy to exceed California's 2015 projected demands for photovoltaic (PV) power…” click here for more