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Baldwin bill aims for better guidance, consistency on solar developments on agriultural land

Baldwin bill aims for better guidance, consistency on solar developments on agriultural land
Written by ZJbTFBGJ2T

Baldwin bill aims for better guidance, consistency on solar developments on agriultural land  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Baldwin bill aims for better guidance, consistency on solar developments on agriultural land

UW-Madison, Alliant Energy Partner to Build a Solar Park at Physical Sciences Lab in Stoughton

UW-Madison, Alliant Energy partner to build a solar park at Physical Sciences Lab in Stoughton

Introduction

Wisconsin farm advocates are embracing a push in Washington, D.C., to establish federal guidelines that could help balance the often competing interests of solar energy developers, farmers who both embrace and oppose turning agricultural land to energy production, and the residents of surrounding rural communities.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 15: Life on Land

Background

More than 80% of the country’s solar energy development has taken place on farmland, where developers are attracted to vast amounts of undeveloped land and easy connections to the electric grid. That’s been a boon for farmers who choose to lease land to the energy companies, but it has led to rising opposition. Critics worry about the loss of agricultural land during the 25 years or longer lifetime of renewable energy installations and how they might affect the long-term health of the soil.

Legislation

Legislation recently introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley seeks to answer those concerns by creating a uniform approach to developing farmland that rewards best practices for soil conservation during the development, operation and retirement of solar installations, provide federal resources to help land owners continue to farm or graze land that hosts such projects, and prioritize federal funding assistance for projects that follow best practices.

Benefits and Concerns

Baldwin said the Protecting Future Farmland Act aims to ensure that farmers and ranchers “have support and choices.” She highlighted the need for a federal strategy to manage the land beneath solar panels, considering the impact on water and soil quality for future generations.

Key Points of the Bill

  • Prioritize federal assistance for large scale renewable energy projects to those projects that have acceptable soil, water, and vegetation management and conservation plans.
  • Direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to collect data on conversion of farmland to solar energy and report to Congress on the benefits and impacts of solar energy development on agricultural land.
  • Authorize the National Resources Conservation Service to develop best practices for protection of soil health during the siting, construction, operation, and decommissioning of solar energy systems on agricultural land.
  • Authorize the National Resources Conservation Service to provide technical assistance to farmers growing crops or managing grazing below or in tandem with solar energy systems, a dual-use approach known as agrivoltaics.

Challenges and Solutions

While some solar developers already address concerns by planting pollinator habitats and implementing soil and water conservation plans, others remove all of the topsoil, leaving the future use of the land uncertain. The involvement of the USDA in developing standards for preserving soil and restoring land will be critical as renewable energy construction accelerates. Additionally, promoting a better understanding of agrivoltaics could lead to broader acceptance of solar developments.

Conclusion

The Protecting Future Farmland Act, introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Sen. Chuck Grassley, aims to address the concerns surrounding the conversion of agricultural land to solar energy production. By implementing uniform guidelines and providing federal resources, the bill seeks to balance the interests of solar energy developers, farmers, and rural communities. It aligns with several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, and life on land.

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?

  • SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 15: Life on Land

The article discusses the development of solar energy projects on farmland, which relates to SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) as it focuses on renewable energy sources. It also addresses SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) as it discusses the impact of solar energy development on rural communities. Additionally, the article touches on SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) by highlighting the need for guidelines to balance the interests of solar energy developers and farmers. The article also mentions SDG 13 (Climate Action) as it discusses the environmental concerns related to the loss of agricultural land. Finally, SDG 15 (Life on Land) is relevant as it emphasizes the importance of preserving soil health and agricultural benefits during the development and operation of solar farms.

2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?

  1. SDG 7.2: Increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
  2. SDG 11.4: Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
  3. SDG 12.2: By 2030, achieve sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.
  4. SDG 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.
  5. SDG 15.3: By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world.

Based on the article’s content, the targets identified are aligned with the respective SDGs. The development of solar energy projects on farmland contributes to SDG 7.2 by increasing the share of renewable energy in the energy mix. The need for guidelines to balance the interests of solar energy developers and farmers aligns with SDG 11.4, which focuses on safeguarding natural resources. The emphasis on sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources relates to SDG 12.2. Integrating climate change measures into policies and planning corresponds to SDG 13.2. Finally, the preservation of soil health and combatting land degradation align with SDG 15.3.

3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?

  • Percentage increase in the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
  • Number of federal guidelines or policies implemented to balance the interests of solar energy developers and farmers
  • Amount of federal resources allocated to support land owners in continuing farming or grazing on land hosting solar projects
  • Extent of integration of climate change measures into national policies and planning
  • Extent of land restoration and achievement of land degradation neutrality

The article does not explicitly mention specific indicators, but the identified targets can be measured using indicators such as the percentage increase in the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, the number of federal guidelines or policies implemented to balance the interests of solar energy developers and farmers, the amount of federal resources allocated to support land owners in continuing farming or grazing on land hosting solar projects, the extent of integration of climate change measures into national policies and planning, and the extent of land restoration and achievement of land degradation neutrality.

4. Table: SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy 7.2: Increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. Percentage increase in the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities 11.4: Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage. Number of federal guidelines or policies implemented to balance the interests of solar energy developers and farmers.
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production 12.2: By 2030, achieve sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources. Amount of federal resources allocated to support land owners in continuing farming or grazing on land hosting solar projects.
SDG 13: Climate Action 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning. Extent of integration of climate change measures into national policies and planning.
SDG 15: Life on Land 15.3: By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world. Extent of land restoration and achievement of land degradation neutrality.

Behold! This splendid article springs forth from the wellspring of knowledge, shaped by a wondrous proprietary AI technology that delved into a vast ocean of data, illuminating the path towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Remember that all rights are reserved by SDG Investors LLC, empowering us to champion progress together.

Source: jsonline.com

 

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