“Solar is a key piece of New York’s goal of reaching 70% renewable energy generation by 2030 under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. With farmland seen by solar companies as prime real estate for their arrays, new research from Cornell University considers how to best balance solar development with the state’s agricultural sector and food production needs. WAMC’s Jim Levulis spoke with Max Zhang, the study’s senior author and professor of mechanical engineering at Cornell.
Zhang: New York is really the frontier of solar development in the country, right. We have very aggressive goals for the climate, have a goal for solar and it’s really exciting place to be, and it’s a very critical time in history for us to make a difference.
Levulis: In your study, you make the argument that solar companies need to use lower quality agricultural land for their projects in New York. Now, when making that determination, how do you define good agricultural land versus lower quality land?
Zhang: So there are multiple definitions for that. One is, you know, soil quality. I think that’s typically a key indicator of the land. In our study, we used that as a key indicator to tell whether it’s good agricultural land or low-quality agricultural land.”
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Levulis, Jim. WAMC Radio 17 May 2021.
Cornell Report: Strategic land use analysis for solar energy development in New York State.