Today’s Solutions: December 05, 2021

We’ve previously written about agrivoltaics as a solution for improving solar and farming efficiency. Farms, like this one in Germany are real-world examples of the efficacy of these systems. Today we bring you the story of another farm benefiting from this symbiotic partnership.

Byron Kominek’s family farm near Boulder, Colorado was struggling to turn a profit when he began exploring solar generation as a strategy to diversify the farm’s income. Although the state was hesitant to grant solar panel permits to the farm because of its historic farmland designation, Kominek was eventually able to convince them with help from researchers at Colorado State University and the National Renewable Energy Lab.

Kominek’s panels are far enough apart that he can drive a tractor through them. The shade from the panels actually helps plants thrive and reduces water use. The evaporation from the plants, in turn, cools the panels, making them more efficient. Kominek took a big risk to finance the $2 million solar arrays, but the investment is paying off.

Today, the farm, called Jack’s Solar Garden, sells 1.2 megawatts of power back to the local grid. Fortunately, Boulder County updated its land use code shortly after Kominek installed his 3,200 panels, paving the way for more farms to follow in his footsteps. As more and more farmers struggle to turn a profit and approach retirement age, Kominek sees the combination of solar and farming as a lifeline for these family operations.

Image source: NRDC

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