Construction Begins On Oregon State Agrivoltaics Farm That Will Merge Agriculture And Solar Power

A $1.5 million project that will enable Oregon State University researchers to improve agrivoltaic systems that entail co-developing land for both solar photovoltaic power and agriculture is currently under construction.

20 miles south of Portland, near Aurora, Oregon, is where Oregon State University’s North Willamette Research and Extension Center is home to the five-acre Solar Harvest experiment. It is the outcome of a collaboration between Oregon State and the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative, whose members funded the development of the solar array as well as its construction.

A grant from Portland General Electric’s Renewable Development Fund and an investment from the Roundhouse Foundation provided additional funding for construction.

According to Chad Higgins, an associate professor in Oregon State’s College of Agricultural Sciences who is leading the project to build the farm, “there has been a big growth in interest in agrivoltaics only in the past few years.”

“Agrivoltaic projects will take place, but people want to know where to build them and how to design the systems for the best return on investment. We will answer questions of such nature with this initiative.

Agrivoltaic systems can increase agricultural output, decrease water use, generate electricity, and bring in more money, according to Higgins’ research. According to one of his most recent studies, co-developing land for agricultural and solar photovoltaic power could produce 20% of the nation’s total electricity production for an investment of less than 1% of the yearly U.S. budget.

According to Higgins, the issue with agrivoltaics research to date is that it has taken place with solar arrays intended only for energy generation rather than in conjunction with agricultural purposes, such as crop growth or animal grazing.

According to Higgins, the solar array at the North Willamette Study and Extension Center is specifically made for agrivoltaics research, with more widely spaced-out panels that can swivel to almost a vertical position to let farm equipment pass through.

Construction Begins On Oregon State Agrivoltaics Farm
Construction Begins On Oregon State Agrivoltaics Farm

It should take roughly a month to install the solar panels and other project-related equipment. After construction is finished, research using the agrivoltaic farm is anticipated to start soon after. Through Oregon, Clean Power Cooperative and the state of Oregon’s Community Solar programme, Oregon State and members of the public will be able to buy the electricity produced by the solar panels.

Through the OSU Foundation, the Sisters, Oregon-based Roundhouse Foundation additionally gave an additional $800,000 in funding for the facility’s agrivoltaics research.

According to Shawn L. Scoville, president and chief executive officer of the OSU Foundation, “The OSU Foundation is appreciative to The Roundhouse Foundation for making a leadership investment once again, which has spurred more generosity.”

The amazing influence that donor funding can have on the most important issues facing the globe, such as sustainability, food systems, and energy solutions, is demonstrated by this gift in support of OSU’s agrivoltaic farm.

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