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Powering Up Midwest Farms: Sol Systems, American Farmland Trust Launch Innovative Soil Health Research Initiative

(Washington, D.C.) — In a significant move to help advance the integration of solar energy and agriculture, Sol Systems — a leader in renewable energy financing and development — today announced a series of sponsorship and research agreements with the American Farmland Trust (AFT) to promote solar development alongside ecosystem-focused land use practices.

Under the terms of a newly signed 3-year Sponsorship Agreement, Sol Systems and AFT will work closely on ‘Smart Solar’ initiatives, a trademark of AFT. These initiatives aim to reduce the environmental impact of solar energy projects while promoting ecosystem-focused land stewardship at their sites. The agreement underscores both organizations’ commitment to integrating renewable energy solutions with agricultural and land stewardship practices, focusing on sustainability and conservation.

Additionally, a 4-year Research Agreement sets the stage for groundbreaking research into soil health at six solar sites developed and owned by Sol Systems, covering over 2,000 acres of land. This research aims to provide a quantitative, data-driven understanding of the ecological, hydrological, and subsurface benefits of integrating specific types of vegetation, including pollinator-friendly vegetation, into solar site designs. The focus on soil health is pivotal in demonstrating the environmental benefits of agrivoltaics, contributing to a sustainable future for both energy production and agriculture at scale.

Over the next seven (7) years, Sol Systems will build six large-scale projects in the Midwest to support and promote ecological practices alongside solar energy development. The projects are crafted to serve a dual purpose, producing both tangible environmental and health benefits, as well as a significant increase in renewable energy. At their core, these initiatives are geared towards creating landscapes that are not only greener and more biodiverse but also serve as thriving hubs for clean energy production. As partnerships between agricultural producers and solar developers grow, Sol Systems is proud to advance dual-use projects that leverage the expertise and partnership of an organization that represents farmers and land stewardship.

“Sol Systems is at the forefront of evaluating how sound sustainability practices on utility-scale solar can contribute to the longevity of rural landscapes, increased ecosystem benefits, and efficiency and sustainability of solar arrays,” Juliana Isaac of Sol Systems said. “We are privileged to partner with AFT on projects that will inform our future work, while aiming to influence the partnership potential of solar energy and agriculture globally.”

The sites are a step toward building climate resilience in agricultural communities and will serve as living laboratories for studying the first steps towards the implementation of solar arrays that allow for the integration of renewable energy generation and agricultural production at scale.

“AFT understands the need for transitioning to renewable energy across the US, and this partnership is an example of how we can work directly with forward-thinking developers to implement our Smart Solar principles, says Alan Bailey, Midwest Solar Specialist with AFT. “Our organization is excited to research the changes, both above and below, the land and the potential viability for crop production under large-scale solar projects.”

About Sol Systems

Sol Systems is a leading national renewable energy firm with an established reputation for integrity and reliability across its development, infrastructure, and environmental commodity businesses. Sol is operating and building over 2 GW of solar projects valued at over $2 billion for Fortune 500 companies, municipalities, counties, utilities, universities, and schools and provides environmental commodity portfolio management services to more than 40,000 customers across the US. The company was founded in 2008, is based in Washington, D.C., and is led by its founder. Sol Systems works with institutional clients, corporate partners, and foundations to create a more sustainable future we can all believe in. For more information, visit https://www.solsystems.com/.

About American Farmland Trust

American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 7.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families. www.farmland.org

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