, 50, farms 6,500 acres of land with his cousin and brother. They grow crops such as soybeans and corn, and have the goal of adding more on 15 acres of land. They want to sell this . DeBaillie pointed out that even on a foggy day, his panels are still able to generate electricity.

According to DeBaillie, earnings from the additional solar panels would be approximately three times what a typical harvest yields. Many are making the decision in Illinois to host acres filled with solar panels. It’s a move state law is behind, because the goal is to have a quarter of Illinois’ power provided by renewable sources (such as solar power) by the year 2025.

Concerns Regarding this Shift

The shift to using solar panels is debatable, for reasons beyond how it might impact the pastoral landscape. There are concerns over an otherwise booming population, too. But if you ask farmers, they will talk to you about indeterminate economics and the need for the income. Costs in 2018 for some of the most prominent crops in Illinois were less than original forecasts. Soybean costs dropped substantially as a result of the trade war between China and the Trump administration. Of course, climate change is another factor leading farmers to take advantage of acreage for solar panels.

In accordance with the federal government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment, humidity increasing and higher temperatures are leading to problems such as more pests on farms. Farmers believe that solar panels could benefit the planet as well as retirement accounts, and help with climate change. They could, essentially, be the change we need to help farmers.

There are different solar panel projects available. One is quite small in size and is designed for small businesses or residential properties. The solar panels are placed on rooftops. Then there are the solar projects that are medium in size – community solar. These require placing solar panels over approximately 15 acres of land. A project of this scale can power roughly 2,000 homes. The biggest size is able to cover up to thousands of acres. It’s almost like a personal power plant.

Due to unanticipated popularity, Illinois is actually going to host a lottery to decide who will be able to obtain contracts to sell solar to big power companies. The expectation is that roughly 1,000 applications are going to be received.

In accordance with Illinois Power Agency officials, as more solar projects go online, production is going to increase from 80 to 100 megawatts.

In order to meet the state’s 2025 goal, Illinois Solar Energy Association believes that new installations are going to need to be built to produce an extra 10,000 megawatts of energy capacity.

As mentioned, an obvious concern is that too much space will be taken up by the solar panels, impacting the landscape. So, people like (head of Midwest development for Summit Ridge Energy), have commented on the push for solar panels to be placed on less-productive acreage to avoid impacting farming operations. For every problem, there seems to be a solution.

A Clear Dedication

Randy DeBaillie’s great-grandfather came, during World War I, to Illinois from Belgium, and four generations of his family has worked on the land. He personally installed the sheds that act as the company’s headquarters. He has put a lot of time and effort into this land, and does so with solar panels, too. When they are covered in snow, he clears them off, so they can continue to properly function.

Newer Projects on the Horizon

The state of Illinois’ flagship university, the at Urbana-Champaign, built its first 20-acre solar just a few years ago in 2015 to lessen its dependency on fossil fuels. A new project, which will cover 55 acres, could be finished as early as 2020. There is an obvious urgency to move forward with regard to clean energy usage.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a focus on building solar panels on less-productive fields. Professors are looking into ways to grow high-value crops around the solar panels in an effort to keep land in production.

Solar panels are becoming a “money” crop for farmers, and there are many reasons for this. Keep reading solar news to learn how renewable energy is being used in the area you live. There are many great things to come, even though there are still hurdles to work through. Solar is on a roll!

 Sources:

https://www.roanoke.com/washingtonpost/business/next-money-crop-for-farmers-solar-panels/article_0c8e8e19-93b4-5860-beda-095868db2f87.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/the-next-money-crop-for-farmers-solar-panels/2019/02/22/2cf99e8c-3601-11e9-854a-7a14d7fec96a_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.799bced95c0d

 

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