URBANA — Some view crops and solar panels as competitors for prime real estate. A 4-year, $10 million dollar grant awarded to University of Illinois' .SubscribeBox_injected{width:80%; margin:auto; background-color:#333333; padding:8px; display: block;} .SubscribeBox-header_injected{color:#FFF; font-size:18px;} .SubscribeBox-formSubmit_injected{float:right;} .SubscribeBoxInput_injected{ max-width: 350px; width: 100%; box-sizing:border-box border: 0px solid; outline:0; height: 28px;} .SubscribeBoxButton_injected { /*background:-webkit-gradient( linear, left top, left bottom, color-stop(0.05, #838587), color-stop(1, #020303) ); background:-moz-linear-gradient( center top, #838587 5%, #020303 100% ); filter:progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient(startColorstr='#838587', endColorstr='#020303');*/ background-color:#3b90e7; -webkit-border-top-left-radius:0px; -moz-border-radius-topleft:0px; border-top-left-radius:0px; -webkit-border-top-right-radius:0px; -moz-border-radius-topright:0px; border-top-right-radius:0px; -webkit-border-bottom-right-radius:0px; -moz-border-radius-bottomright:0px; border-bottom-right-radius:0px; -webkit-border-bottom-left-radius:0px; -moz-border-radius-bottomleft:0px; border-bottom-left-radius:0px; text-indent:0; border:1px solid #000000; display:inline-block; color:#ffffff; font-size:15px; font-style:normal; height:31px; line-height:31px !important; width:155px; text-decoration:none; text-align:center; text-shadow:1px 1px 0px #040405; text-transform: uppercase; } .SubscribeBoxButton_injected:hover { /*background:-webkit-gradient( linear, left top, left bottom, color-stop(0.05, #020303), color-stop(1, #838587) ); background:-moz-linear-gradient( center top, #020303 5%, #838587 100% ); filter:progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient(startColorstr='#020303', endColorstr='#838587');*/ background-color:#272b2b; cursor:pointer; } .SubscribeBoxButton_injected:active { position:relative; top:1px; } .flex-container { display: flex; flex-direction: row; } /* Responsive layout - makes a one column layout instead of a two-column layout */ @media (max-width: 800px) { .flex-container { flex-direction: column; } } .subscribe_injected { display: flex; flex-wrap: wrap; } .error{color: white !important;} .subscriptionResponse_injected{color: white !important;}

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/RgRjYUNQP0QkaHR0cHM6Ly9zdXN0YWluYWJpbGl0eS5pbGxpbm9pcy5lZHUvVwNzcGNCCmF3UL5-YSVd4xdSFG5ld3NAcml2ZXJiZW5kZXIuY29tWAQAAAAE" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment will design "agrivoltaic" systems that allow for both crops and solar panels to share land space.

The USDA's National Institute of Food and AgricultureSustainable Agriculture Systems program selected U of I as the lead institution to study agrivoltaics in a variety of land types and climate scenarios, including Illinois, Colorado, and Arizona. The goal of the project is to maintain crop production, produce renewable energy, and increase farm profitability.

The emerging field combines agriculture and photovoltaics = agrivoltaics. Photovoltaics is the conversion of light into electricity. Agriculture is the production of food. Supporters of each are often at odds on which should get prime land use. Agrivoltaics researchers believe that both can occupy the same place, to the benefit of each.

iSEE Interim Director Madhu Khanna and collaborators will explore optimal design for the agrivoltaic systems.

“For centuries, humans have used the benefits of the sun to produce food and energy, and only in recent decades has humanity turned to harvesting solar for renewable energy,” said Khanna, the ACES distinguished professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at Illinois. “But to produce solar energy at the utility scale is land intensive, and cropland is often the most suitable for this purpose.”

While solar has become more profitable for land use, there are concerns that diverting land for solar energy production may cut into food production. Some counties have prohibited large-scale photovoltaic arrays from replacing agricultural land.

“Agrivoltaics has the potential to reduce this competition for land,” Khanna said.

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