solar energy

Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Support Agrivoltaics Research

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Funding, Legislative

Senators Martin Heinrich and Mike Braun have introduced the Agrivoltaics Research and Demonstration Act of 2023. It would authorize $75 million to help expand the agrivoltaic systems which combine solar panels with agricultural production. Under the bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would receive $15 million annually over the course of five years for the development of best practices for farmers and solar developers to expand the implementation of the practice. Several agricultural organizations including the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and American Solar Grazing Association have expressed support for the legislation.

Agrivoltaics Research

“Expanding agrisolar is all about maximizing our resources to grow both food and renewable energy on the same piece of land, while at the same time diversifying revenue sources for farmers,” NCAT Executive Director Steve Thompson said in a news release. “NCAT’s AgriSolar Clearinghouse has spent the last two years working with farmers, land managers, and solar companies to harvest the sun twice. This bipartisan bill will allow us to take agrivoltaics to the next level in this country.”

Agrivoltaic systems within the legislation apply to lands where agricultural activities and solar energy production are simultaneously taking place. The USDA’s National Institutes of Food and Agriculture would work closely with the Department of Energy to establish a network of demonstration sites nationwide through the legislation. Agrivoltaic advocates note that the practice can increase farm profits through the reduction in energy use or selling of energy generated on-farm. Other supporters of the legislation include American Farmland Trust (AFT) and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

“The Agrivoltaics Research and Demonstration Act would secure USDA’s role in advancing this innovation alongside the Department of Energy, AFT, and other partners across the country,” said Tim Fink, AFT Policy Director. “Together, we are seeking ways to reduce displacement of farming from productive land as a result of solar energy development.”

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West