California Farmers Shifting to Solar Energy Crop?

California is a well-known solar energy hub.

But we all would have thought that was because it gets lots of sunshine.

Looks like there is another reason – large parts of California does not get enough water.

Here’s an interesting report on how the continuous drought in California is making many farmers harvest solar energy on their farms instead of regular crops.

Says the report: “California’s punishing drought is sparking fierce debates over water allotments for agriculture, and more than 500,000 acres will lie fallow this year. At the same time, the state is fighting climate change more aggressively than ever with a new law requiring half of all electricity to come from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2030.”

Now, the farmers perhaps could not care less about the state mandates and laws, but they surely must be concerned about the lack of water. And some of the farmers seem to have given up hope that their farms (or at least portions) will ever get water allotments.

Thus solar. While solar power plants on the farms might or might not generate as much revenues as could some attractive cash crops, when it comes to having nothing farmers versus some reasonable revenues, anyone would choose the latter. This is what appears to be happening in California.

What is happening in CA today could repeat in many other parts of the world soon, as water scarcity starts pinching some farmers and they start having solar panels on their farms instead. While it appears like a nice thing for the solar industry, such a shift could become a concern if it becomes widespread. After all, while there are enough barren lands to have solar power plants, why should farmable land be sacrificed for these?

While one might argue that the farmable lands are farmable only in theory if they do not get a steady supply of water, it still is disconcerting to have very large tracts of farmable land going to harvest solar power.

I guess that as long there is a balance maintained between food production and energy generation, this should not be too much of a concern…

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India Renewable Energy Expert