One of the arguments used against solar power deployment is the amount of space needed for all of those solar panels. Although one study has shown that 0.6 percent of all land in the U.S. would be needed to completely electrify the country, the fight still goes on, even as solar and wind power technologies continue to increase in efficiency while decreasing in costs.
Leon Kaye writes in Triple Pundit:
The fight is also occurring in counties across the U.S., as landowners and farmers seek new ways to generate revenue. Most of rural America has missed out on the economic revival that has conjoined technology and urbanization in many cities, so these counties are also seeking new ways to generate tax revenues. Farmers, of course, have also taken a hit due to the ongoing slump in global commodities.
The controversy over farmers having the right to sign contract with solar and wind power companies is now taking center stage in North Carolina.
The combination of the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS), which requires utilities operating in the state to generate some electricity from renewables, along with its booming tech culture, has turned the Tar Heel State into a solar powerhouse. In fact, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) says North Carolina ranks third in the nation amongst U.S. states in total solar capacity. Last year, the installation of over 1,100 megawatts of solar power placed North Carolina in second nationally in new solar generation.
And much of this power is generated in rural counties across the state, from the northern border with Virginia to along the South Carolina state line. According to Solar Strata, one company that is riding North Carolina’s solar boom, these new solar farms are appearing on farmland where crops such as tobacco, peanuts, cotton and corn can no longer earn enough money for farmers to keep their land. Other sites are appearing on fallow land that has not been farmed in years. Companies such as Solar Strata pay rent to these farmers, with contracts that often last as long as 20 years. As quoted by one farmer who was interviewed by Joe Ryan of Bloomberg, “It gives me a way to keep the farm . . . and pass it to my grandchildren.”