Video: How solar panels and crops can thrive side by side

Step into the field to see agrivoltaics up close.
By Alison F. Takemura

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Solar panels in a field with kale and Swiss chard leafy greens underneath them in partial shade.
(Alison F. Takemura)

To fight climate change, we’re going to need up to 11 million acres to build out solar energy in the U.S. And flat farmland is a prime spot for siting it. But the equipment used to produce solar energy (called photovoltaics”) and farming don’t have to compete for land. Instead, they can share it. That’s the promise of agrivoltaics, the mashup of agriculture and photovoltaics.

One agrivoltaics practice is to grow crops in the partial shade of solar panels. What’s it like to step into a field where that’s happening? How do farmers and researchers work around the panels? How does an agrivoltaics-grown tomato taste? Tag along with me to check out this piece of the clean energy future for yourself. I also talked to a few farmers and researchers about the lessons they’re learning in order to grow food in this unique environment. Read my article on agrivoltaics for more.

Alison F. Takemura is staff writer at Canary Media. She reports on home electrification, building decarbonization strategies and the clean energy workforce.