Siting solar, sparing prime agricultural lands

December 19, 2017

Unconventional spaces could be put to use generating renewable energy while sparing lands that could be better used to grow food, sequester carbon and protect wildlife and watersheds, says a study led by the University of California, Davis.

These land-sparing spaces include: 1) built environments, such as rooftops 2) salt-affected land 3) contaminated land, and 4) water reservoirs with floating solar arrays, or "floatovoltaics."

The study, published today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, notes that unique technical, economic and institutional barriers exist for each land type. But with more incentives that encourage renewable energy development on these lands, they could more than meet state energy demands.


The study focuses on the Central Valley, a globally significant agricultural region encompassing about 15 percent of California. The research found that using these land-sparing site types in the Central Valley alone could exceed the state's projected 2025 electricity demands up to 13 times for photovoltaics and up to two times for concentrated solar power.

"In the era of looming land scarcity, we need to look at underused spaces," said corresponding author Rebecca R. Hernandez, an assistant professor in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis. "This paper provides a menu of sorts for farmers, agricultural stakeholders and energy developers to think about energy projects on spaces that don't require us to lose prime agricultural and natural lands, which are becoming increasingly limited."


The study underscores the potential of siting renewable energy projects while largely avoiding the environmental trade-offs that often accompany energy sprawl and climate change mitigation.
The study's additional authors include lead author Madison Hoffacker of UC Davis and also affiliated with UC Berkeley and UC Riverside, and Michael Allen of UC Riverside.

The study was funded by Center for Conservation Biology at UC Riverside; Schneider Climate and Energy Fellowship, through Stanford University and Audubon California; Agricultural Experiment Station Hatch Project; California Energy Commission; and UC Davis.

University of California - Davis

Related Water Resources Articles from Brightsurf:

Transport of water to mars' upper atmosphere dominates planet's water loss to space
Instead of its scarce atmospheric water being confined in Mars' lower atmosphere, a new study finds evidence that water on Mars is directly transported to the upper atmosphere, where it is converted to atomic hydrogen that escapes to space.

Water striders learn from experience how to jump up safely from water surface
Water striders jump upwards from the water surface without breaking it.

Data tool helps users manage water resources, protect infrastructure
River systems are essential resources for everything from drinking water supply to power generation - but these systems are also hydrologically complex, and it is not always clear how water flow data from various monitoring points relates to any specific piece of infrastructure.

More accurate modelling of climate change impacts on water resources
To better document the repercussions of climate change on regional water resources, researchers from around the world now have access to HYSETS, a database of hydrometric, meteorological and physiographic data created by a team at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), which contains 70 years' worth of data on 14,425 North American watersheds

Making comprehensive water resources modeling more accessible
A new large-scale, open source hydrological and water resources model developed at IIASA will support and enable different stakeholder groups and scientific communities to engage with a hydrological model and support their investigations.

'Pregnancy test for water' delivers fast, easy results on water quality
A new platform technology can assess water safety and quality with just a single drop and a few minutes.

Researchers create new tools to monitor water quality, measure water insecurity
A wife-husband team will present both high-tech and low-tech solutions for improving water security at this year's American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Seattle on Sunday, Feb.

Increase in cannabis cultivation or residential development could impact water resources
Cannabis cultivation could have a significant effect on groundwater and surface water resources when combined with residential use, evidence from a new study suggests.

Source water key to bacterial water safety in remote Northern Australia
In the wet-dry topics of Australia, drinking water in remote communities is often sourced from groundwater bores.

Our water cycle diagrams give a false sense of water security
Pictures of the earth's water cycle used in education and research throughout the world are in urgent need of updating to show the effects of human interference, according to new analysis by an international team of hydrology experts.

Read More: Water Resources News and Water Resources Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to