Homes And Farms Where Families Go Off the Grid (#GotBitcoin)
Advances in solar, wind and water technologies make tapping renewable energy easier, but it’s still hard to fully unplug. Homes And Farms Where Families Go Off the Grid (#GotBitcoin)
The Steyns Spent About $1 Million To Acquire The 35-Acre Property And Build Their Five-Bedroom, Off-Grid Home.
Heather and Phillip Steyn’s 35-acre mountain ranch, deep within Colorado’s Roosevelt National Forest, is 5 miles from the nearest electric utility pole. Yet their gourmet kitchen is loaded with built-in appliances, there’s a hot tub on the deck and the hand-distressed Brazilian oak floors are warmed by a radiant heating system—all powered by solar and wind energy.
The Kitchen Features Appliances Powered By Solar And Wind Energy.
The Steyns, veterinarians who raise sheep and keep horses on their ranch, never planned to live off-grid. “We fell in love with the property and where it was located—we didn’t do it to be green, we did it out of necessity,” Dr. Steyn, 47, said of her home. “It was cost-prohibitive to put the house on the grid.”
Whether they want to live in rugged locations, create a hedge against power failures, or to reduce their utility costs while shrinking their carbon footprint, homeowners are investing in a range of renewable-energy technologies.
Philip And Heather Steyn. Both Veterinarians, The Couple Raise Sheep And Keep Horses On Their Colorado Ranch—And Are Now Building A Solar Home In Ecuador.
Solar panels, which have become more efficient and affordable, are already the norm in some neighborhoods. But a range of new off-grid innovations—from sensor-activated solar systems that power homes through blackouts, to ultraviolet filters that sterilize rainwater for drinking and bathing—are finding their way to the residential market.
Nearly 2 million U.S. homes will have some form of solar power by the end of this year—compared with just over 138,000 homes in 2010—according to a study by the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group, and Wood Mackenzie, an energy-research and consultancy firm. And the price of residential solar systems has fallen by about 70% since 2008, said analyst Ben Gallagher.
Dr. Steyn Checks The Solar And Wind Charge Controllers And The Inverters Of His Off-Grid System.
The Steyns’s Colorado ranch runs off a computer-automated system that harnesses power from a variety of sources. A 5.7-kilowatt array of photovoltaic panels in a pasture, supplemented by a hillside wind turbine, charge a large battery bank that provides electricity for the 3,240-square-foot main home, a ranch manager’s apartment and a bunkhouse. Rooftop solar panels heat water for the radiant-heating system in the floors, the showers, dishwasher and hot tub. The batteries can provide enough electricity to last three or four cloudy days. Failing that, the Steyns have a 1,000-gallon propane tank that can fuel two backup generators. The entire system cost about $250,000, Dr. Steyn said.
The couple spent about $1 million on the ranch, completed in 2005. They are now building a new solar home in Cotacachi, Ecuador, where they founded a nonprofit veterinary clinic and have listed the Colorado property for $1.7 million.
The Steyns’ Central Living Area Has Hand-Distressed Brazilian Oak Floors Warmed By A Radiant Heating System—Also Solar-Powered.
Austin and Randall Slimp, who live in Santa Fe, N.M., bought a two-bedroom solar home on in Taos, N.M., for $295,000 last November. Partially wrapped in corrugated metal, the 1,250-square-foot house has passive solar features, such as doubled-paned glass walls that face south and dark, acid-stained concrete floors that work in tandem to absorb warmth from the sun during the winter. The home’s butterfly-shaped roof collects rainwater for home use, and there’s an array of 6 photovoltaic panels by the driveway, feeding power back into the main grid.
Designed And Built By Ted Elsasser And Peter Wolf Of Solstainable Builders, The House Has Passive Solar Features Such As South-Facing, Double-Paned Glass And Dark Concrete Floors, Which Retain Heat In The Winter.
“As soon as it popped up on my phone I called our Realtor,” said Ms. Slimp, a 27-year-old web designer who bought the house—designed by Solstainable Builders—sight unseen, vying with two other bidders.
The Slimps’ Dishwasher, Kitchen Sink And Ice-Maker All Run On Harvested Rainwater, Which Is Purified By Several Filtration Systems.
The home’s spiffy off-grid features are also practical. The cost of drilling a well in areas of Taos can run between $80,000 and $100,000, according to David Fries, a real-estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty who represented the Slimps in the sale.
The Slimps use the home as a weekend retreat—but also tout it as an “off-the-grid luxury rental” for $250 to $300 a night. “We are tapping into that market for eco-tourism,” said Mr. Slimp, a 28-year-old entrepreneur and investor.
The home’s two bathrooms, washing machine, dishwasher, kitchen sinks and ice-maker all run on harvested rainwater, which is funneled from the roof into cisterns and purified by multiple filtration systems. Like many homeowners with solar-powered homes, the Slimps earn utility credits for the unused power their panels generate.
Austin And Randall Slimp By Their Solar Array.
Other homeowners are installing hybrid solar systems that can also be used as a backup in the event of grid failure. In March, John and Sandra Hedlund, both 74, invested $80,000 in a hybrid system for their home in Virginia’s Tidewater region, with 84 rooftop solar panels linked to a LG lithium ion battery. The system has two inverters, which convert the direct current (DC) output from the photovoltaic panels into appliance-friendly alternating current (AC) power. One inverter is tied to the grid and earns credit from the electric company. The other can power a cottage on their property if there’s a blackout.
The Hedlunds’ Kitchen Has A Fleet Of Appliances, Including Two Refrigerators, Two Dishwashers And An Induction Cooktop.
Mr. Hedlund, a retired database engineer, said his solar-powered backup system gave him greater peace of mind. “We are not going to run out of power from the sun.”
Sandy And John Hedlund By Their Pool. The Couple Formed A Solar Co-Op With 10 Neighbors To Bring Down Costs, Working With Solar United Neighbors, A Nonprofit Advocacy Group.
It’s a different story in Vermont, where Ashley and Jack Adamant own a solar-powered 1,400-square-foot home with 12 rooftop panels on a 30-acre property outside Montpelier. The solar panels power all the appliances, the radiant heat and the air conditioning—as long as the sun is shining. The Adamants’ 24-volt battery system doesn’t have enough capacity to power them through extended periods of cloudy weather.
Ashley And Jack Adamant Own A Solar-Powered Home With An Attached Greenhouse On 30 Acres Outside Montpelier, Vt.
“For nine months of the year, we produce way more electricity than we can use,” said Ms. Adamant, 32, a writer with two children who dispenses tips on off-grid living on her Practical Self-Reliance blog. “But from Thanksgiving to the end of January, days are so short and the sun is so low, not much is being generated. There are ice storms—if even a small part of the panel gets covered, the rest is much less efficient.”
The Adamants—who had moved off-grid so they could ditch corporate jobs for an active outdoor lifestyle—found themselves running inside to shower and do laundry in rare moments of winter sunshine. “It was a constant thought—‘Can I do dishes now?’ ” Ms. Adamant said.
In 2016, they spent about $20,000 to connect to the grid, bringing power lines up from the main road and installing new equipment that allows them to tap in by flipping a switch.
“Now, if my 3-year-old dumps a jar of jam on herself and paints her body with it, she can have a shower on a cloudy day,” Ms. Adamant said.
Currently, there are approximately 4,800 homes for sale in the U.S. that include “solar panels” in the property description—or 0.3% of all listings nationwide, according to an analysis of August data by Realtor.com. The most listings were in California—one of the states that credits homeowners for the excess energy they put back in the grid.
However, in the top 10% of the market in metro areas where listings with solar power were most prevalent, luxury homes with solar tended to list for 6% less than homes without—a finding that suggests that photovoltaic panels have yet to attain the cachet of marble countertops for wealthy home buyers.
“Solar doesn’t necessarily add value to the sale price of a house,” said Kristine Wood, an associate broker with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Taos, N.M., who is listing a 5,000-square-foot solar home set on 30 acres for $1.8 million. “The sellers realize it is a specific type of house and that we need to find a specific buyer for it,” she said.
How The Rich Can Escape America’s Unreliable Power Grid
When Wim Coekaerts built his dream home, he decided to bypass the local utility and engineer his own microgrid.
When Wim Coekaerts bought a hillside lot to build his California dream house, there was an old horse barn, a grove of olive trees and lovely views of Silicon Valley. But there was no electricity, and the nearest utility pole to his bucolic acre was 550 feet away.
The town of Woodside requires new homes without utility service to pay for wires to be buried underground. Coekaerts faced a choice: pay PG&E Corp. roughly $100,000 for engineering work and foot the enormous additional cost of the trenching, or engineer a more personal fix.
Coekaerts, who grew up in Belgium, is a man who highly values reliable, stable electricity— something PG&E has not always provided in recent years amid increasingly ferocious wildfires. And it’s not just California: this week, a winter storm has paralyzed the grid in much of Texas, highlighting just how fragile the legacy system is.
Coekaerts is senior vice president of software development at Oracle Corp., a legend in the open source community and is the longest serving board member of the Linux Foundation. We all want the lights to stay on; he needs to be able to run his servers and charge his electric Tesla Model S.
His house is the exact opposite of a small cabin: it was designed by an architect and spans 2,800 square feet. Coekaerts started puzzling through the engineering challenges: What if he cut ties with PG&E? What would it take to build his own self sufficient energy system, with the electricity produced and stored on site?
He started researching microgrids, a small energy grid with control capability, which typically means it can disconnect from the traditional grid. Coekaerts wanted to be autonomous from the beginning. He started looking at Tesla’s energy products: the home battery known as the Powerwall and larger systems called Powerpacks.
“This is not a tiny home,” says Coekaerts, as contractors put the finishing touches on the three-bedroom limestone house. “A lot of people say they are off grid, but they have a tiny house where they only need two solar panels. I didn’t want to have a lifestyle where I’m just getting by. This is a normal house with normal energy consumption, and I can charge my car if needed.”
The System Combines Five Ground-Mounted Arrays Of 15 Solar Panels Each With A 232Kwh Tesla Powerpack.
In the developing world, microgrids may leap frog traditional utilities, much in the way that mobile phones made the need for landlines obsolete. In the U.S., military bases, universities, prisons, and hospitals are turning to microgrids as a way to operate independently from the grid. The Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, about a half-hour’s drive east of Oakland, has a microgrid that allows it to operate as an island for extended periods.
Individuals are also pursuing them. Larry Ellison, who serves on the board of directors of Tesla Inc. and is the chairman and chief technology officer of Oracle, has expressed interest in a microgrid for Lanai, the island in Hawaii that he bought in 2012.
Tesla disclosed in a regulatory filing that director James Murdoch purchased a Powerpack system from the company for $600,000 in 2019 and that in 2020, a company affiliated with Ellison “entered into an agreement to obtain preliminary design services from us for an estimated $400,000, relating to the potential future implementation of a Tesla Energy system.”
PG&E has more than half a million residential solar customers, and at least 18,000 have installed battery energy storage systems. You hear a lot in California about “solar plus storage”: solar panels to harvest sunlight into electricity, paired with a home battery that can store the electricity for later use, like after the sun goes down. Tesla markets the Powerwall as a backup for when the grid goes down. The Powerpack is mostly sold to businesses and utilities.
Coekaerts didn’t want his system to function as a backup to the grid: he wanted to be independent of the grid. So through Luminalt, the San Francisco company that installed his solar system, he was able to get a Powerpack, which is about 17 times what a single Powerwall provides.
Tesla representatives have told him it is the first residential Powerpack installation that they know of, though others are in the pipeline. The total cost, including permitting, labor for the installation and a federal tax credit for the solar system, was roughly $300,000.
His system, which was activated in November, combines 27 kw of photovoltaic solar panels with a 232kWh Tesla Powerpack. There are five ground-mounted arrays of 15 solar panels each, or 75 solar panels total, stretching across the yard.
The Tesla Powerpack, which on the outside just looks like a massive white box with Tesla’s logo, emits a low hum and is protected and surrounded by a tasteful wooden fence. During long summer days, the system will probably generate far more electricity than he needs, and neighbors have joked that they’ll get out their extension cords.
Coekaerts Has Kept A Detailed History Of How His Microgrid Has Performed Over The Last Few Months In Hopes Of Sharing The Information To Educate Others On The Process.
PG&E has become something of a villain to many Californians in recent years. The state has staggered through increasingly devastating wildfire seasons, and some of the blazes were sparked by aging utility infrastructure. Faulty PG&E equipment ignited the November 2018 Camp Fire, an inferno that destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.
In March, PG&E’s residential customers will see their rates increase as the utility, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, seeks to upgrade its equipment. When there’s high wind and fire danger, PG&E—which provides natural gas and electric service to roughly 15 million people from the Oregon border to Bakersfield—proactively shuts off power to tens of thousands of customers. Costs keep rising and outages are becoming more routine.
But it’s not just PG&E: This week the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers, was crippled by a snow storm that froze wind turbines, kicked natural gas plants offline and resulted in widespread outages that left millions of people shivering in their homes. The climate crisis is here to stay, and finding ways to function independently of utilities is gaining traction.
“On the one hand, it’s an engineering marvel to produce all of the needs of a modern house with locally produced power,” says Rich Brown, a research scientist in the building technologies and urban systems division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. “On the other hand, it’s still expensive.”
The future, says Brown, is aggregation: it is far more cost effective to build a microgrid if you’re serving multiple people, like an entire city block or a new subdivision. Brown and colleagues at the Berkeley Lab are working on a project called “Ecoblock,” in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland, that will serve about 25 housing units.
“Low income neighborhoods tend to have more pollution, and the capital required to go solar or buy a battery is just too high,” says Brown. “There’s an equity issue. Ecoblock could be a model for how you could collectively take a neighborhood and make it more resilient, and do it cost effectively.”
During Long Summer Days, The System Will Probably Generate Far More Electricity Than Coekaerts Needs.
Coekaerts agrees. “When it comes to apartment buildings and new homes, instead of using the normal power grid they should do something like this,” says Coekaerts. “It seems like a real scalable solution.”
Coekaerts knows that he is a rare early adopter. Besides being inherently tech-savvy, he has the willingness—and the ample financial resources—to prove the concept. He’s kept a detailed history of how his microgrid has performed over the last few months in hopes of sharing the information, maybe via a YouTube video, to educate others on the process. His main message is that it works: he has zero concern about running out of power.
“The climate is changing, and you see that every year it gets worse,” says Coekaerts. “I’m not a prepper, but I want to be self-reliant. And there’s a cool factor to this. If I can do this, other people can do it too. It’s nice to be on the forefront of something that is coming.”
Tech Moguls Back GoodLeap’s Green Housing Push With $12 Billion Valuation
Hayes Barnard has raised over $1 billion from Michael Dell and others for his solar finance company, several years after leaving SolarCity.
Americans are going to need at least $450 billion to turn their homes green in coming years, says entrepreneur Hayes Barnard, and he wants to get it to them.
Mr. Barnard, a former top executive at SolarCity Corp., raised more than $1 billion in the past 10 months from tech investing luminaries like Michael Dell and Laurence Tosi to grow his finance company GoodLeap LLC. A September funding round valued the company at $12 billion.
The new capital has made the low-key Mr. Barnard into the “billionaire-next-door” in his Austin, Texas, neighborhood, according to a person who knows him. It also marks a comeback for the 49-year-old, who resigned as chief revenue officer at SolarCity in 2016 when Tesla Inc. took over the financially stressed company.
The U.S. solar industry has been plagued by false starts, but growing demand for energy-efficient housing—and for eco-friendly investments—has turned the tide, Mr. Barnard said.
GoodLeap has become the biggest rooftop solar financing company in less than two years by developing new technology to connect lenders, consumers and the vendors that install the panels, according to bankers and investors. The aim is to replicate within just a few years the modernization that took decades to unfold in the mortgage market.
GoodLeap offers lenders like banks, insurers and hedge fund managers software that can track the finances and customer satisfaction of each borrower. An app connects installers to lenders to get loan approval while on sales calls to homeowners, who can use a different app to track power production, cost savings and electricity sales to their local utility grids. The company is on track to originate $5.2 billion of loans this year, up from $3.3 billion in 2020, a person familiar with the matter said.
Now Mr. Barnard wants to branch out into home improvements ranging from heat pumps to energy-efficient windows and artificial lawns, financing homeowners’ efforts to adapt to blackouts, heat waves and natural disasters brought on by climate change.
Mr. Barnard and GoodLeap President Tanguy Serra —also a SolarCity veteran—are racing to expand before more-established financial institutions turn their attention to the space. Mortgage company Rocket Cos. in August announced a tech-driven push for “green home energy solutions” financed through loans.
“The company that wins is the company that bundles all the technology together,” said Mr. Barnard, who peppers his speech with Silicon Valley patois like, “I want to double-click on that.”
GoodLeap needs money to stay ahead and, for now, Mr. Barnard is steering clear of public stock markets and their scrutiny and reporting requirements. Instead, he is courting elite technology entrepreneurs.
Mr. Tosi, founder and managing partner at WestCap and the former CFO of Airbnb Inc., met Mr. Barnard in 2018 at a skiing event in British Columbia organized by venture capitalist Antonio Gracias. On a hike, Mr. Barnard impressed Mr. Tosi with his interest in building an enterprise focused on big issues like sustainability, Mr. Tosi said. He invested in Mr. Barnard’s business in 2020 and joined GoodLeap’s board of directors this year.
Mr. Barnard connected with Mr. Dell after he moved to Austin, a city Mr. Dell has long called home and that is increasingly attracting Silicon Valley émigrés like Tesla founder Elon Musk. This summer, Mr. Dell and Mr. Barnard took a stroll along Lake Austin to get to know each other. They discussed a potential investment in GoodLeap, the company’s charitable affiliate, GivePower, and the relative merits of raising capital privately or through a public stock offering.
A few weeks later, Mr. Dell placed the largest order in an $800 million private sale of GoodLeap shares. That funding round valued the company at $12 billion, up from $4.4 billion in December and $1.5 billion in March 2020, a person familiar with the matter said.
One reason for the recent capital raise, Mr. Barnard said, is that GoodLeap is looking to merge or acquire other solar-financing companies.
Mr. Barnard knows the perils of listing publicly. SolarCity’s stock more than tripled to around $85 from 2013 to 2014 as the company dominated installation of solar panels, which it leased to customers. The company held annual events for thousands of employees in Las Vegas, culminating in an awards show where Mr. Barnard performed freestyle raps praising the winners.
But SolarCity borrowed to fuel growth, including a costly expansion into solar technology manufacturing, and its net loss roughly doubled in 2015 to $769 million, according to the company’s annual report. The stock fell to about $20 before the Tesla takeover that triggered Mr. Barnard’s departure.
Mr. Barnard, who was raised in Creve Coeur, Mo., by a single mother working three jobs, regrouped around a mortgage company called Loanpal and began shifting the firm toward solar panels. The new venture avoided SolarCity’s vertically integrated strategy and instead built a software-driven marketplace connecting industry participants, analysts and investors said.
“The magic of what they’ve done is they mechanized the whole process,” said Rob Camacho, co-head of structured credit at Blackstone Inc. The firm has bought more than $500 million of loans through GoodLeap, a person familiar with the matter said.
An IPO would have given GoodLeap access to hundreds of new investors. Money raised by traditional IPOs, not including direct listings or special-purpose acquisition companies, has already exceeded previous full-year totals. Major stock indexes remain near records, and investment funds are awash with cash and eager to buy into growing, profitable companies.
This summer, banks pitched GoodLeap a potential IPO valuation far exceeding the $12 billion it reached selling stock privately, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Barnard turned to his mentors to help decide what to do.
Mr. Tosi texted Mr. Barnard: “Your company, your terms, your time, your way.”
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Electric Farms Are Using Solar Power To Grow Profits And Crops
Growing crops beneath solar panels is an innovative way to use farmland to generate renewable energy, especially in countries with limited space such as Japan.
In many respects, Takeshi Magami’s farm is like any other in Japan, growing everything from potatoes to ginger and eggplants. But one major difference sets it apart from its neighbors: the 2,826 solar panels perched above the crops.
The panels, covering much of the one hectare (2.5 acres) of land in the tranquil countryside east of Tokyo, serve a dual purpose. They supply nearly all the power needed to run the farm, and are a source of extra income by selling surplus renewable energy to the grid.
For Magami that can mean 24 million yen ($187,000) of additional revenue a year, eight times more than the maximum 3 million yen generated from his produce. While he benefits from generous tariffs that have since been reduced, it’s an indication of the added value available to farms in Japan and globally.
“Our goal is to electrify and automate all steps of farming” and create a model for what sustainable agriculture could look like, said the 38-year-old Magami, who has been operating the farm as part of his start-up Chiba Ecological Energy Inc.
All the machinery used on Magami’s farm, minus the tractor and a hand-pushed tiller, are electric, charged by panels set above a small shed. Rows of batteries for the tools are lined up on a shelf.
The farm is part of a global movement called solar sharing — or agrivoltaics — that involves the simultaneous use of farmland for producing crops and generating power. The movement is gaining adherents as the global push to replace fossil fuels is encouraging more innovative approaches to boosting capacity for renewable energy.
Solar sharing is emerging as a viable alternative in places like Japan with limited space and a heavy reliance on energy imports. It can help stretch home-grown energy production as countries increasingly seek to reduce their exposure to foreign supplies.
Solar sharing is also useful in countries with harsh growing environments, protecting crops by absorbing sunlight and acting as a shield.
“We’ve seen many regions with climate change, and agrivoltaics could mitigate and make agriculture more resilient,” said Max Trommsdorff, head of the agrivoltaics group at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Germany. “Small countries in the sun belt with high population is where agrivoltaics are most urgent and promising.”
Japan, which is targeting to go carbon neutral by 2050, has limited capabilities for renewable energy because of its mountainous terrain. It is aiming for 36% to 38% of its energy mix to come from renewable sources in 2030, with solar accounting for 14% to 16%.
While Japan’s solar installations have risen over the last decade, they supplied only 8.9% of the country’s power as of fiscal 2020, according to the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies in Tokyo.
That means Japan will need more spots for panels. The government is looking toward rooftops, railway lines and airports, and the country’s wide stretches of agricultural land on the flat plains offer a promising alternative.
But while Magami has demonstrated the success of solar sharing, the practice hasn’t been widely adopted in Japan. Only 742 hectares were approved for agrivoltaic use between fiscal 2013 and 2019, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, out of the country’s total agricultural land of 4.4 million hectares as of 2020.
Agrivoltaics is a tough sell for Japan’s elderly farming population. Many are without successors to take over the business, and they’re unwilling to make the heavy investment in solar panels that may take decades to pay off. It also can be a distraction from the business of growing crops.
“Some people are against it as it ruins aesthetics, or for getting in the way of farm work,” said Chiho Egashira, an official at Japan’s ministry of agriculture. It can be cumbersome for farm equipment to dodge poles that lift the panels off the ground.
While solar panels can be an alluring prospect for extra income, the ministry wants to ensure food security remains the priority. And so it has put in place rules to ensure production levels.
Magami says that despite the hurdles, it’s necessary for the country to embrace agrivoltaics to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
He calculates that using solar panels on roughly 5% of Japan’s arable farmland, or equivalent to 200,000 hectares, could generate 20% of the country’s power generation.
“Things like geothermal and hydropower take decades to start operating,” Magami said. “We’re no longer in an era where the best way is to find unused plots of land available and install it with panels. Those have all been filled.”
Other nations are making progress with solar sharing, especially in countries that face a similar lack of space. South Korea has targeted 10 gigawatt of agrivoltaics capacity by 2030 under its Renewable Energy 3020 plan.
Taiwan is eyeing the scheme as it seeks available spaces for renewable installation, according to Magami. Italy plans to invest 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in agrivoltaics to create about 2 gigawatts of capacity.
Larger countries also have a significant presence. China, the world’s top solar panel producer, is home to the biggest agrivoltaic system: a project covering 20 million square meters of land in the desert in Ningxia.
Of the 2.8 gigawatt agrivoltaic systems installed globally, China had roughly 1.9 gigawatt of capacity as of 2020, according to the Fraunhofer Institute.
Adoption in the US varies, with more progressive states in the Northeast launching projects with government funding, according to Mark Uchanski, an associate professor at Colorado State University who specializes in sustainable and organic agriculture.
“People’s appetites are increasing,” he said. Agrivoltaics “is a perfect storm for wanting food security, energy and working toward emission goals,” he said.