Monthly Archives :

March 2021

Solar Agriculture has a bright future

Solar Agriculture has a bright future 150 150 Joshua Jones

At first glance, you might not think solar power mixes well with agriculture. After all, wouldn’t the plants and the panels both be competing for the same solar resources? As it turns out, the answer isn’t that simple.

Researchers in Utah and Oregon, as well as another research team at the University of Arizona, have published papers showing that food farms make great locations for solar panel arrays. Photovoltaic panels operate best in certain conditions, the most obvious being abundant sunlight. Temperature is also an important factor, since the panels start to lose efficiency above 78°F. With the light wind and low humidity that’s often associated with land covered in crops and grass, agricultural areas have the perfect combination of environmental factors for solar panels.

Many food crops also benefit from this arrangement as well. Excessive sunlight can actually be bad for plants, which require some amount of shade and can burn in the sun. In the study at the University of Arizona, the areas where crops were planted around the panels stayed cooler during the day and warmer at night. Not only that, but the temperature of the panels stayed an incredible 9ºC cooler during the day. The air was also less dry, and the soil dried out less quickly between waterings. Nearly all of the crops used in the test saw a noticeable increase in the amount of crop produced, an increase in water-use efficiency, or an improvement in CO2 uptake.

This new concept of combining agriculture with solar power has been termed “agrivoltaics” and it’s making big waves in the solar industry. The idea of combining solar farms with food farms opens up a tremendous area for implementing solar power. Farmers could see increased efficiency in their food production and save water, as well as provide their own power or even make money through a solar lease.

We can’t wait to see where this technology goes. What are your thoughts about agrivoltaics? Let us know down in the comments!

Branford Celebrates Solar Farm

Branford Celebrates Solar Farm 150 150 Joshua Jones

Right here in Connecticut the town of Branford is celebrating the first anniversary of the activation of their 4.5 acre solar array. The solar array was created through a power purchase agreement between the town and the Tesla power company. Tesla constructed the system and is responsible for operating and maintaining the solar farm, while the town provided the land the facility is built on. Tesla sells the power to the town at a discounted rate, and there was no financial investment on the town’s behalf. As always, solar power is a great deal!

This particular array consists of more than 4,000 computer-guided panels. These smart pv panels achieve maximum efficiency by tracking the sun as it moves across the sky. In just one year of operating, this relatively small solar array produced more than 1.24 million kilowatt-hours of energy. That’s enough to power 125 homes for the whole year!

In 2019, the town created the Clean Energy Ad Hoc Committee. This new committee is responsible for guiding town policy on matters related to clean energy, and looking for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With the Clean Energy Ad Hoc Committee’s guidance, the town is also working on implementing other clean energy initiatives. This includes a major town building energy conservation project and the purchasing of electric cars for the town fleet. They’re even developing a program to make high efficiency air source heat pumps more available for residential homes.

Clean energy is a movement, and here at Elite we’re proud to be a part of it! How is your town moving towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Are you doing anything to move towards a carbon-free future? Let us know in the comments!