Integrating solar energy with agriculture: Industry perspectives on the market, community, and socio-political dimensions of agrivoltaics
Energy Research and Social Science
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Large-scale development of solar-generated electricity is hindered in some regions of the U.S. by land use competition and localized social resistance. One approach to alleviate these coupled challenges is agrivoltaics: the strategic co-location of solar photovoltaics and agriculture. To explore the opportunities and barriers for agrivoltaics, in-depth interviews with solar industry professionals were conducted and findings suggest that the potential for an agrivoltaic project to retain agricultural interests and consequently increase local support for development is the most significant opportunity of dual use solar. Capable of increasing community acceptance, participants expect agrivoltaics to play an important role in future solar endeavors, especially in places where development may be perceived as a threat to agricultural interests. The results further reveal the interconnections among the various dimensions of social acceptance and suggest that the growth of agrivoltaics is contingent on market adoption of the technology through community acceptance and supportive local regulatory environments. As solar photovoltaic systems transcend niche applications to become larger and more prevalent, the dimensions of social acceptance, including the opportunities and barriers associated with each dimension, can help inform decision making to enhance the growth of agrivoltaics and thus photovoltaic development. The findings can help land use planners, solar developers, and municipal governments make informed decisions that strategically and meaningfully integrate agriculture and solar, and in turn provide multiple benefits including the retention of agricultural land, local economic development, and broad adoption of solar energy technologies.