Walking on Sunshine: Solar Power on Agricultural Lands

Solar power usage has recently grown in the United States due to shrinking costs and tax incentives. The cost of generating solar power has decreased by approximately 75 percent since 2010, thanks to technological improvements and lower prices for materials and construction. As a result, solar has grown
from 0.1 percent of U.S. electrical generation in 2010 to nearly 5 percent in 2022.

One limitation of solar power generation is that it requires much more land per unit of power
produced than fossil fuels
. Like farming, solar power installations generally require large parcels of flat, open land. According to the USDA, farming and agriculture use 43 percent of the surface land area of the lower 48 states. Because of this, farmland has become a popular location for solar installations. However, arrays of photovoltaic solar panels have faced criticism as being an unsightly or poor use of prime farmland. Dual-use solar projects—also known as agrivoltaics, agrisolar, or co-location—offer a potential compromise, allowing farmers to diversify their income and generate renewable energy while keeping the land available for agriculture.

Click here to read and download the full publication