Solar panels among fields of crops

Farmland Solar Policy Project

Balancing Solar Development with Farmland Preservation

Thoughtful state solar siting policies can help build the renewable energy infrastructure we need for the future, while protecting valuable open space and farmland, and improving farm sustainability.

Farmland is often flat, cleared of trees and debris, and sunny—an “ideal” location for siting solar energy. This leads to competition between two beneficial land uses, delays the siting of needed energy resources, and can threaten prime farmland and food systems.

This project identifies the policy strategies used by different states to balance rapid renewable energy development with the protection of farmland and agricultural uses and makes those strategies available to law-makers, farmers, researchers, and citizens seeking to change or understand their regulatory landscape.

About the FSPP

This site provides information on state policies affecting whether and how solar arrays may be sited on farmland, with a focus on laws characterizing solar projects by array size, design, or location.

Solar policies “live” in many different areas of state law, including renewable energy procurement mandates, climate and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, energy permitting and approval processes, tariffs for the purchase of solar energy, and taxation policies. Farmland and agricultural use protections may exist independently, or within these other state solar development laws.

The Farmland Solar Policy Project identifies options for crafting solar development regulations based on solar array size, location, and design with the goal of expediting non-controversial solar installations and ensuring regulatory oversight of arrays that may adversely impact other beneficial land uses. This project breaks down existing state regulatory strategies into options for policy design that may be adapted for integration into a wide variety of state and municipal regulatory structures.