Tue Sep 17th, 2019 at 08:13:46 PM EST
Fraunhofer Institute in Germany has been doing "agrophotovoltaics" studies for the last few years, the concept of producing both crops and solar power on the same land. Their 2018 study results are available here: https:/www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/press-media/press-releases/2019/agrophotovoltaics-hight-harvesting-
"The results from 2017 showed a land use efficiency of 160 percent, as confirmed by the project consortium under the direction of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. The performance of the agrophotovoltaic system in the very hot summer of 2018 greatly exceeded this value."
Fraunhofer is also doing tests of solar panels over shrimp ponds in Vietnam:
They show similar results there, too, possibly even better as the solar shading is more conducive to shrimp growth. If there are any applicable aquaculture facilities in your state, there might be some solar opportunities available there too.
What Fraunhofer calls agrophotovoltaics the Japanese call "solar sharing" and have been doing since at least 2004:
"The concept was originally developed by Akira Nagashima in 2004, who was a retired agricultural machinery engineer who later studied biology and learned the "light saturation point." The rate of photosynthesis increases as the irradiance level is increased; however at one point, any further increase in the amount of light that strikes the plant does not cause any increase to the rate of photosynthesis....
"Based on the tests conducted at his solar testing sites in Chiba Prefecture, he recommends about 32% shading rate for a farmland space to reach adequate growth of crops. In other words, there is twice as much empty space for each PV module installed."
UMass Amherst is working on this concept as well with outreach to farmers through a state program:
Mother Jones article on this idea:
Paper from Nature Sustainability the article references
There should be no competition between active farmland and solar development. When done correctly, solar can become a lucrative second "crop" for farmers while maintaining and, in some cases, increasing agricultural productivity.