In the last year there has been a noticeable increase in the development of commercial and utility scale solar in the Midwest. The rapid expansion creates opportunities for farmers and landowners, but also poses threats to farmland. Illinois must find a way to produce more renewable energy while protecting farmland and serving rural communities. To better understand farmer engagement with solar development, American Farmland Trust (AFT) conducted a survey and in-person interviews with landowners and operators throughout the Midwest. In these conversations, participants described various benefits and drawbacks of solar energy deployment. The Illinois Solar Siting Summary identifies the most important issues that participants raised, alongside AFT’s research to inform the state’s renewable energy strategy.
AFT has also developed a policy brief that explains how Illinois’ renewable goals can be coupled with Smart Solar Siting or agrivoltaic practices to keep farms in production while increasing the state’s renewable portfolio.