August 28, 2017 Read More →

South Carolina Study Concludes Agriculture and Solar Industries are Complementary

Southeast Energy News:

Building on an April analysis from the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association and the state’s agricultural agency, the latest study finds that less than a third of 1 percent of North Carolina’s 4.75 million acres of cropland now houses solar panels – belying criticisms that large-scale solar arrays are threatening the state’s traditional farms.

“You can’t make up the numbers,” said the Sustainable Energy Association’s Robin Aldina, lead author of the April report. “They do speak for themselves.”

With a new law adopted this summer expected to more than double the state’s solar capacity – mostly in the form of utility-scale installations – the numbers will undoubtedly increase.

But analysts say even if large solar developments accounted for more than a quarter of the state’s electricity supply – a fraction they say is probably unrealistically high – only about 2.2 percent of cropland would be impacted.

And while researchers acknowledge solar could cause a “small but manageable impact” on agricultural productivity, many contend the promise of the sheep-solar symbiosis and other benefits outweigh those downsides.

“Despite what some folks will lead you to believe, solar and agriculture are not at odds,” said Aldina. “They’re not competing, but complementary industries.”

More: Farmers, experts: solar and agriculture ‘complementary, not competing’ in North Carolina

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