APPA Awards NYPA $102,000 Grant For Agriculture And Solar Energy Production Study

March 14, 2022

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
March 14, 2022

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has been awarded a $102,000 grant through the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments (DEED) program to evaluate and report on innovative approaches to integrating dual-land use for agriculture and solar energy production. 

Funding through the DEED grant will empower NYPA, in collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), to encourage the establishment of best practices that will enable farmers, communities, developers, industry partners, equipment vendors, utilities and other stakeholders to better understand the benefits of sustainable land use practices and co-location of agriculture with solar generation

NYPA noted that agrivoltaics is the simultaneous use of land for typical agricultural practices, such as grazing, crops, and beekeeping, and photovoltaic (PV) power generation through the use of solar panels. 

Agrivoltaic systems can be designed in a variety of ways. For high-value crops like tomatoes, lettuce, or herbs, solar arrays must allow sufficient sunlight to pass to ground crops while capturing light to generate electricity. 

NYPA will study how native vegetation, pollinators, low maintenance plants, agricultural crops and grazing livestock may coexist within the space of solar co-land management. The results of the study will be published to advise proper techniques and tools that optimize sustainable vegetation, agriculture yield and PV electricity generation.

“The APPA’s DEED grant will help NYPA explore the potential benefits of solar generation in agricultural settings,” said NYPA Senior Director of Research, Technology Development and Innovation Alan Ettlinger in a statement. “By studying agrivoltaic systems, NYPA will be able to create a blueprint that will articulate sustainable land practices and help guide New York to a more sustainable, carbon-free future.”

“This is exactly the kind of innovation that the APPA’s DEED program is built to fund,” said APPA Vice President of Technical and Operations Services Alex Hofmann. “We can’t wait to see how the project plays out and to share the learnings with other public power utilities.”

This research initiative is one of NYPA’s many projects supporting New York’s goal to generate 70 percent of the state’s electricity from renewables by 2030.

In addition to NYPA’s agrivoltaics program, New York State has established the Farmland Protection Working Group and the Agricultural Technical Working Group. These working groups are designed to ensure solar siting that is responsive to the needs of New York’s agricultural communities.

NYPA is a long-time DEED program partner and received $250,000 to fund two demonstration projects in 2021, one that is analyzing the impact of ice on a hydropower plant and one testing an advanced technology that evaluates the health of high voltage assets in a substation.

The DEED program, which funds research, pilot projects and education to improve the operations and services of public power utilities. 

DEED members can learn more about the NYPA project in the DEED Project Library. Additional details about the DEED program are available here