Examining existing policy to inform a comprehensive legal framework for agrivoltaics in the U.S.

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Department of Social Sciences


Advances in solar photovoltaic applications demonstrate the viability of combining agriculture and solar energy production in a system known as agrivoltaics. Because scarce consideration has been given to the socio-political context of development, this study applies Legal Framework Analysis to identify barriers and opportunities for a comprehensive legal infrastructure to enable agrivoltaics in the U.S. The State of Massachusetts is used as a case study to understand what elements of their regulatory regime contribute to their novel agrivoltaic policy program, while also considering the surrounding federal and local government dynamics in which this state program is embedded. Based on the analysis results, a comprehensive legal framework for agrivoltaics should arguably include a combination of federal and state energy financing mechanisms coupled with favorable state and local land use policies. Specifically, a state-level feed-in tariff and local government allowances for mixed land use between solar and agriculture will be the key features of an enabling legal framework. The results demonstrate that multi-level, multi-sector policy integration is imperative for advancing agrivoltaics and that strategic measures to align solar energy and agricultural land use regimes can catalyze the diffusion of this promising technology in the U.S.

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Energy Policy