Project will produce educational resources for Extension agents and attorneys to help farmers and rural landowners understand drawbacks and benefits
Image Credit: Linnaea Mallette
AREC researchers Paul Goeringer and Mayhah Suri at the University of Maryland (UMD) were recently awarded nearly $500K by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) to lead a new multi-institutional investigation of solar power production on rural or agricultural land. With large-scale solar projects expanding quickly throughout the United States and new economic and policy incentives for renewable energy sources, agricultural land has become both a desirable and increasingly controversial site for solar panel installation. Leasing rural or agricultural land for solar production can provide many potential benefits to the landowner or farmer, but may also represent economic losses to the agricultural sector while changing the identity and dynamics of rural communities. These costs and benefits have not been fully explored by researchers, and without this knowledge, there is confusion among landowners about how to make sense of offers to lease their land for solar power production. With this new grant, researchers will be filling in these gaps in knowledge to help lay the groundwork for larger-scale nationwide research and education programs on solar power to serve rural landowners and ensure they can make the best possible decisions.