Five Colorado Agrivoltaic Farms and Organizations to Check Out
November 3, 2021
Agrivoltaic farming is gradually becoming more well known as people prioritize sustainable agricultural methods and renewable energy. As a result, there are multiple Colorado agrivoltaic farms and organizations to check out.
Colorado Agrivoltaic Learning Center (CALC)
CALC is a nonprofit located in Longmount, Colorado sponsored by the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center (CNDC). CALC’s work focuses primarily on educating community members and students on renewable energy and sustainable living through tours and events. For example, their teachings center around responsible land use management, local food production, and clean energy. They hope their efforts will help members achieve more sustainable practices in both their personal and professional lives.
Additionally, CALC organizes their agrivoltaic tours and events at Jack’s Solar Garden, which is located on the same property. So far, they have already served around 950 guests at the site, held 13 webinars, and received visits from 48 local government representatives.
Jack’s Solar Garden
Jack’s Solar Garden is the largest agrivoltaic research site and commercially active system in the nation. It’s located in Longmount, Colorado, next to CALC.
The farm is home to over 3,200 solar panels that create 1.2 megawatts (MW) of power. That’s enough to power roughly 300 homes! Therefore, they have plenty of equipment to carry out their research, which focuses on growing various crops under solar panels.
Jack’s Solar Garden is a model for other farmers along the front range in Colorado. Specifically, it’s showing how to support agricultural production while prioritizing renewable energy and sustainable farming as a whole. They’re open to public and private tours through CALC, with whom they partner, to further educate the community and visitors on the coexistence of agriculture and renewable energy.
ARDEC South Horticulture Research Farm
The Agricultural Experiment Station is a program affiliated with the Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center (ARDEC) and managed by Colorado State University’s (CSU) College of Agricultural Sciences. Above all, the program focuses on research, expansion, engagement, and participatory learning on agriculture — primarily on the ARDEC-South Horticulture Research Farm.
ARDEC does a lot as an off-campus teaching and research farm, livestock facility, and Horticulture Field Research Center. However, its main focus is to educate on food safety, nutritional security, and health. ARDEC holds 1,065 acres in total, including 65 acres on the ARDEC-South Horticulture Research Farm and 1,000 acres surrounding ARDEC’s main site.
The Solinator Garden
Two Colorado-based solar energy firms — Solaris Energy and Namasté Solar — who do renewable energy work on a national level created the Solinator Garden located in Fort Collins, Colorado. The Solinator Garden is home to a commercial-scale solar panel array that produces one MW of power (enough energy to power 200 homes). It also has vast support among those in the area, including 100 Colorado residents and the Fort Collins Utilities.
This partnership between local government, businesses, and residents sheds light on the importance of working together to create a strong local economy. The Solinator Garden provides jobs for the community and clean energy for the city. Additionally, it benefits local habitats by incorporating pollinator-friendly plants and grasses into the farm that help bees and other pollinators.
NextEra at IBM Boulder
NextEra Energy is a leading company in the clean energy sector that chose Namasté Solar to engineer, design, and manage Boulder County’s largest solar installation. The agrivoltaic solar farm is located on IBM’s 55-acre Gunbarrel campus and holds over 25,000 single-axis solar modules. The panels orient on their single axis toward the sun, which increases total energy production.
The solar panel system generates around 10 MW of power. In other words, it generates enough to power over 2,200 homes and remove an annual 14.7 million pounds of CO2 emissions from the air. The city of Boulder meets their total renewable energy target with the help of IBM’s solar installation representing 20% of that total. In addition, 12 sheep regularly graze the land, contributing to NextEra’s goal of environmentally friendly vegetation management.
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