Agrisolar, or agrivoltaics is simply the co-location of solar power production with agricultural land use.
As interest in both renewable energy and sustainable agriculture grows, agrisolar has the potential to meet both needs.
There are multiple benefits of pairing solar and agriculture:
• Producing food
• Creating renewable energy
• Conserving ecosystems
• Increasing pollinator habitat
• Maximizing farm revenue
In our arid Southwest landscape, researchers at the University of Arizona have found the microenvironment among the solar panels can increase humidity, decrease daytime temperatures, and increase nighttime temperatures, all of which can increase the efficiency of crop production and solar electricity generation in a symbiotic relationship.
Image: Agrivoltaics—a New Way to Synergize Energy + Food Production, from University of Arizona Research, Discovery & Innovation
NM Healthy Soil is working with SunShare Community Solar to demonstrate agrivoltaic designs in New Mexico.
Community solar offers a particularly exciting opportunity for agrivoltaics in New Mexico. Signed into law in 2021, the program administrator awarded the first 200 megawatts of capacity to multiple solar developers to construct projects up to 5 megawatts each that will offer subscriptions to customers of the three investor-owned utilities in the state.
One of those developers is SunShare, a developer of community solar installations founded in 2011. In addition to providing workforce development opportunities, lease payments to local landowners, and electric bill discounts to low-income subscribers, SunShare will be working with New Mexico Healthy Soil to incorporate agrivoltaic design concepts into their New Mexico projects. SunShare already has some demonstrated experience with agrisolar on a project in Minnesota working with local farmers on vegetable production and an apiary located within the solar panel rows.
Learn more about agri-solar projects in New Mexico on our blog: Harvest the Sun—Twice
NM Healthy Soil and SunShare are building a collaborative network of stakeholders in New Mexico.
If you’re interested in agrisolar and would like to connect,
CLICK HERE to reach out to coordinator Brian Naughton.