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Solar Energy Brings New Income To Traditional Farms

By Aimee Lutkin

The need for solar power and other renewable energy sources is constantly increasing. People are realizing that coal is an energy source of the past and many are taking their cue and trying to fill the energy gap with renewable resources. But even clean energy demands infrastructure, materials and space for both. Project Earth has identified a growing trend amongst solar farm builders, which is to pair their work with actual farms. It's a great match.

Photovoltaic arrays, or solar panels, are built high enough that the sun can still reach the ground and grow grass, which in turn means farmers can still raise livestock or grow crops on land their land while the panels absorb sun above. It's called "dual land use" and more and more farmers and ranchers are getting on board. 

Many of the farms are using the panels to generate power for their own use, which saves them money and keeps their land cleaner. Others are making money by leasing their land to companies who are looking for areas cleared of growth in which to build the solar panels. In fact, some farmers make more money from the green energy operation on their land than they do from their crops. For example, in North Carolina farmers can make up to $1,400 an acre from solar companies.