Document Type

Policy Brief

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Abstract

The US Energy Information Administration predicts that there will be 28% more energy use globally by the year 2040 (1). Coupled with this, is an increase in awareness of the negative effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment. These two facts are among the main drivers behind the heightened interest and investment in renewable energy sources. Solar energy, with carbon emissions estimated as 43 times less than natural gas (2), is a particularly attractive source of renewable energy.

Maine has the distinction of being both one of the highest per capita consumers of fossil fuels in the nation (3), as well as having the least solar power of all the 6 New England states (4). While these facts may make Maine a good candidate for increased development photovoltaic (PV) solar array farms, there are drawbacks to this source of renewable energy as well. Placing solar arrays directly on agricultural land has the potential to both increase farm income and reduce farm productivity. It is imperative that Maine researches the potential risks and benefits to solar farming on agricultural land in order to decide what type of policy is best suited for the state.

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