Agrivoltaics, or the pairing of photovoltaic solar panels with agriculture, can help some crops thrive in hot, arid climates. (Photo: U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]/Flickr) The world already needs more solar power. It’s clean, renewable energy, and it’s quickly outpacing the job creation and affordability of fossil fuels. But on top of that, a growing field of research suggests it can improve agriculture, too, helping us grow more food and pollinator habitat while also conserving land and water. Big, utility-scale "solar farms" are one important source of solar power, helping complement smaller, less centralized sources like solar panels on the roofs of buildings. Solar farms take up a lot of space, though — and they thrive in places with many of the same qualities favored by food crops. As one recent study found , the areas with the greatest potential for solar power tend to already be in use as croplands, which makes sense, given the importance of sunlight for both. "It turns out that 8,000 years ago, farmers found the best places to harvest solar energy on Earth," said Chad Higgins, study co-author and professor of agricultural sciences at Oregon State University, in a statement […]

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