Colorado Solar || Sandbox Solar’s Research with CSU’s Specialty Crops Program

Check out the latest solar news, rebates, and other essential solar updates happening near you.

Aidan Muir
September 29, 2020

Sandbox Solar has been working with Colorado State University’s Agricultural Research, Development, and Education Center (ARDEC) for the last three years on an agricultural research project to combine Colorado solar and crops. Through our research, we have learned what’s possible in Northern Colorado with agrivoltaics and plan to continue expanding in Colorado and beyond.  Check out the videos below to learn about the Specialty Crops Program projects at ARDEC. 

Specialty Crops Virtual Field Day

Colorado State University’s Specialty Crops Program held a virtual field day to give an update on the projects and demonstrations they have been doing at ARDEC. ARDEC is CSU’s research farm just north of Fort Collins, where they conduct agricultural research and demonstration projects. 

See the video below for an introduction to the Specialty Crops Virtual Field Day.

You can watch all of the project video updates here

Agrivoltaics with Sandbox Solar

This is Sandbox Solar’s third year studying agrivoltaics and Colorado solar at ARDEC. We are encouraged by our research, which has shown that agriculture and solar can coexist. Our goal is to create a business model where we will be able to simultaneously grow food and generate renewable energy for Fort Collins and across Colorado.

Researching and fully understanding Colorado solar and agrivoltaics is extremely important for us to be able to move forward with our climate and clean energy goals. We have found that there is enough suitable land in Colorado for agrivoltaics to cover 650,000 acres. This would allow us to create more clean energy through solar while still utilizing land for farmers.

Learn more about the solar panels and arrays we have installed for the project by watching the video below. 

We are working on allowing the perfect combination of shade and light to come through our solar panels to provide the crops with the ideal amount of sunlight throughout the day. The panels need to be able to generate enough electricity and power while providing enough light for crops to grow. We have found that some shade benefits certain crops because Colorado offers more sun than those crops actually need. For example, leafy greens and cool-weather crops do better under the semi-transparent panels, while peppers and tomatoes do better under more transparent panels.

One notable aspect of this project is that it is a fully replicated experiment with three replications, so our results are scientifically sound. We are the only site in Colorado and the U.S. studying vegetable crops under multiple panel types and transparencies. We look forward to seeing the use of agrivoltaics continue to grow in the future. 

Sandbox Solar, your local Colorado solar provider, is committed to increasing clean energy production for all of Northern Colorado. Our intention is for solar and agriculture to coexist, allowing us to effectively use our land in Colorado. There is so much opportunity for agricultural solar and solar research, and we’re excited to continue to learn more with this project. Stay tuned for more updates about our project with CSU’s ARDEC, and feel free to contact us with any questions or feedback about this study. 

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