Smart Solar - American Farmland Trust

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Smart Solar

Growing Renewable Energy while Strengthening Farm Viability and Protecting Healthy Soil

The Department of Energy estimates we need more than 10 million acres to scale up solar energy by 2050, and AFT projects over 80 percent could be sited on agricultural lands. This growth will create opportunities, but it also threatens farmland, and the conflict between using land to grow food and using it to produce energy is already generating public backlash against renewable energy deployment overall. America needs both—renewable energy and productive, resilient farms and ranches. Smart Solar℠ can be the solution.


What is Smart Solar?


Below you can find a two-page handout for Smart Solar℠ on farmland and ranchland.

Smart Solar refers to solar projects that meet three main, equally important goals: (1) safeguarding land well-suited for farming and ranching, (2) strengthening farm viability, and (3) accelerating solar energy development.

Significantly more renewable energy, including solar, is needed in the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat the climate crisis. Farmers and ranchers need this transition to combat climate change and minimize future impacts from droughts, floods, extreme heat, and beyond.

Smart solar guides solar development to where it has the least negative impact on land well suited for farming, ensures that agricultural land where projects are sited can be farmed in the future, and promotes “agrivoltaics” solar projects to create opportunities for both farming and solar energy on the same land.

If done well, Smart Solar projects can provide income for farmers and landowners and protect land well-suited for agriculture

Smart Solar Principles

American Farmland Trust has developed Smart Solar principles to help shape solar development across America. These principles can be applied broadly recognizing that Smart Solar will look different across the country due to differences in landscapes, agricultural production systems, and other characteristics.

Smart Solar Policy Recommendations

Enacting local, state, and federal policies that ensure the U.S. solar buildout strengthens farm viability and keeps land in farming will be critical to reducing land use and siting tensions and getting renewable energy projects built. AFT developed policy recommendations to meet these goals and advance Smart Solar principles.

Learn about the Smart Solar Policy Recommendations

AFT's Smart Solar Experts

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Smart SolarSM is a trademark of American Farmland Trust