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Utility-scale Solar Installations Can Avoid Using Farmland, Study Says

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Across the U.S., the energy and agricultural industries are battling it out over whether to place solar panels or crops on large stretches of flat, sunny land. Now, a new study finds that developing solar energy arrays on alternative sites like buildings, lakes, and contaminated land would allow California to meet its 2025 electricity demands without sacrificing farmland.

Across the U.S., the energy and agricultural industries are battling it out over whether to place solar panels or crops on large stretches of flat, sunny land. Now, a new study finds that developing solar energy arrays on alternative sites like buildings, lakes, and contaminated land would allow California to meet its 2025 electricity demands without sacrificing farmland.

The study’s authors, all from the University of California system, focused their analysis on California’s Central Valley. The Valley makes up 15 percent of California’s total land, and 3,250 of the Valley’s 20,000 square miles were classified as non-agricultural spaces viable for solar energy. But the authors calculate that development of solar power on just these lands would create enough electricity to power all of California 13 times over (with photovoltaic panels) or two times over (with concentrating solar power).

Continue reading at Yale Environment 360

Photo: Floating solar panels on an irrigation pond at the Far Niente Winery in Oakville, California. 

CREDIT: FAR NIENTE WINERY / UC RIVERSIDE