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Farm Sunshine, Not Cancer: Replacing Tobacco Fields with Solar Arrays

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Michigan Tech researchers contend that tobacco farmers could increase profits by converting their land to solar farms, which in turn provides renewable energy generation.

Although tobacco use is the leading cause of avoidable death globally, farming tobacco continues to provide the primary source of income to many farmers. But two Michigan Technological University researchers contend that converting tobacco fields to solar farms could profitably serve two purposes: Reduce preventable deaths and meet the growing need for solar energy to combat climate change.

Ram Krishnan ‘16, now an engineer designing large solar systems in the rapidly expanding U.S. solar industry, and Joshua Pearce, professor of materials science and electrical engineering, completed a study “Economic Impact of Substituting Solar Photovoltaic Electric Production for Tobacco Farming” published Feb. 2, 2018 in Land Use Policy. 

As demand for solar energy grows so does the demand for land for solar farms. “To completely eliminate the need for burning fossil fuels, solar technology requires large surface areas,” Pearce explains.

Read more at Michigan Technological University

Image: Joshua Pearce, professor of materials science and electrical engineering, has conducted several studies investigating the benefits of large-scale solar deployment replacing existing coal or nuclear power. (Credit: Sarah Bird/Michigan Tech)