Agrivoltaics, The Time is NOW!

bifacial solar panels (Next2Sun)

Cows between bifacial solar modules (Photo credit – Next2Sun)

Register Here for Upcoming Workshop!

Agriculture in the Northeast relies on relatively scarce farmland. Conventional solar projects take farmland out of production. Over 90% of Northeast farms are small, grossing <$250,000/year. Nationally small farms occupy 48% of all farmland. To remain competitive, small farms need supplemental revenues, like commercial solar, to be successful. Crop production within conventional fixed-tilt solar arrays is challenging or not allowed in lease agreements, resulting in fewer acres to farm. In addition, some states limit installation of solar arrays on farmland, especially on conserved farmland, fearing it will reduce agricultural production and revenues.

Enter “agrivoltaics.” UVM has partnered with iSun Energy to erect and test a vertical bifacial solar array in early 2024. These systems complement agriculture, while producing clean electricity economically. Vertical (fence-like) agrivoltaic systems allow easy access between lines of panels for crop production and animal grazing. Vertical panels stay free of sun-blocking snow. They even gain energy from sunlight reflected from snow on the ground. This project is a prime example of innovation in the solar power industry that must be tested and then, if found appropriate, adopted for use in the Northeast.