Solar Energy For Farmland? No.

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solar panels wheatWhen I read this article about using farmland for large solar arrays, well, I was speechless! I was shocked, angry, appalled, and thought how can anyone be so stupid to use friable land for solar arrays?

The only point I agreed with was that farmers need to make money. The point of solar is to lease the land to a solar developer. Once the lease is up, the array can be moved and the land returned to agriculture.

Productive ag land

My question is, why take it out of ag use in the first place? Use it as it is. Get creative, working with town, state and federal governments to create programs that will keep the land in use, create an income stream for the farmers, and benefit local residents.

Food policies should be created that help farmers stay afloat without having to sell to real estate developers or lease to solar companies. Jobs would be created, food security would be increased, nutritious food would be accessible, the local economy would get a boost, and most important, the land would be left open.

Foodservice organizations could contract with farmers to grow for them. Think of all the food eaten in one town in one day in commercial venues! Hospitals, schools, restaurants and nursing homes could help out their communities by having their menus grown locally. Supermarkets, small markets and convenience stores could do the same.

Land could be allocated for community gardens for neighborhoods, individual families, or a group wanting to go to or create a farmers market. A mobile market, going to various neighborhoods all week, could also be a spin-off of this sort of land use.

Rooftop solar

Municipalities should also see that residents have clean energy as well as fresh food. Why not help fund homeowners and business owners who want to install solar pv on their buildings?

Most of the recent solar installations in Germany were done on the roofs of homes and barns. A friend of mine took a photograph of a village while he was riding a train through Germany. Solar panels were on just about every building!

The main benefit of solar being installed nearby where it’s going to be used is that less power is lost in transmission. The farther it has to travel, the more is wasted. If you have a solar system on your home, little electricity gets wasted, unlike that which travels hundreds of miles.

The cost of solar has dropped dramatically, so it’s affordable for homeowners. They can buy or lease with a high ROI. With tax incentives and breaks from utility companies, it gets even less expensive.

Unusable land

If large solar arrays must be installed, they should be on brownfields and other unusable pieces of land. They are being put in the desert, which is thought of as barren land. I live in the desert, and it is teeming with life! Large solar arrays damage land. Put them on land that is already damaged and can’t be used for anything else.

The only place for solar on a farm is on top of a barn.

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.