Solar and Wind Assessments for Pivots (SWAP)

    Use of center pivot irrigation (CPI) on square plots of farmland is commonplace throughout much of the American West. Corners of fields with CPI sprinklers are often unirrigated and left fallow. In fact, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that over 300,000 acres of non-irrigated corners of CPI fields exists in Colorado alone (Roberts, 2011).

    Thinking broadly, putting some of this non-irrigated farmland to beneficial use as host sites for renewable energy offers an opportunity for greenhouse gas mitigation, economic development, and agricultural profitability. And the potential is vast: solar photovoltaics (PV) on 71% of Colorado’s non-irrigated corners would produce as much electricity as the state currently generates every year (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2017). Although such massive development isn’t feasible for a variety of reasons, investigating the use of select non-irrigated corners to host renewable energy projects for utilities, communities, and individuals is worthwhile. Read more.

    This article was published in the Western Rural Development Center’s Rural Connections Spring 2017

    Published on: May 17, 2017

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