On September 23, 2022, the Solar Farm 2.0, the 54-acre panel array that began producing power for the UIUC campus, have officially celebrated their opening. Our SCAPES team has visited the site already at numerous occasions to measure, observe and in preparation for planting season in 2023!
Apart from visit of Chancellor, Robert Jones, we have had members of SolSystems (company managing Solar Farm 2.0), teams involved in the construction, and different research teams working on the farm.
Two multi-year research projects mentioned are — Pollinator Habitat Aligned with Solar Energy (PHASE), and Sustainably Co-locating Agricultural and Photovoltaic Electricity Systems (SCAPES).
“It is remarkable that in less than two years, researchers are turning the Solar Farm into a living laboratory, that has the potential to shape the future of agricultural production and pollinator-friendly habitats,” said Facilities and Services Director Ehab Kamarah.
So far, pollinator plantings at the Solar Farm 2.0 have attracted a range of wildlife, researchers said. The SCAPES team has focused first-year efforts on modeling the optimal arrangements of crops and panels to maximize yield and energy production.
“Solar farms are really profitable, much more than corn and soybean farming. So there is this potential conflict between food and energy,” said Madhu Khanna, professor in Environmental Economics and director of the Institute of Sustainability, Energy and Environment at UIUC. “Agrivoltaics is a good alternative for how we can produce both food and energy from the same land.”
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