A newly released report Solar Energy Use in U.S. Agriculture. Overview and Policy Issues published by USDA’s Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, serves as an overview of solar energy use by farmers and ranchers in the U.S. that identifies trends and future potential. According to USDA’s 2009 On-Farm Energy Production Survey, ninety-three percent of farms with on-farm renewable energy production produce solar energy and 8,000 farms have installed a solar energy system on their farm.
On-farm solar energy production has increased significantly in the last decade. Sixty-three percent of solar panels in agriculture were installed from 2005-2009 and the growth rate was almost five-fold from 2000-2009. Solar energy projects funded under USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program also experienced a five-fold increase between 2007 and 2009. The report reviews the regulations and incentives that are available to farmers and ranchers, which has recently boosted installations, and also examines major financial influences.