Assemblymember Kelles Secures Funding for Agrivoltaics Research in New York State Budget

Ithaca, NY – Assemblymember Anna Kelles secured $1 million in funding in the New York State FY 2024 budget to establish the Agrivoltaics Research Program. Agrivoltaics is the use of land for both agriculture and solar energy generation. In rural communities, tensions can exist when agricultural land is converted to large-scale solar arrays, but agrivoltaics can provide a solution.

Agrivoltaics can be a win-win solution: preventing the loss of prime farmland while also investing in renewable energy. Sometimes referred to as agrisolar or dual use solar, holistic agrivoltaics systems look at agriculture and solar energy production as compliments to the other instead of as competitors. These systems work both to improve environmental and economic sustainability while facilitating a transition to a renewable energy economy.

The Agrivoltaics Research Program, to be housed at the New York State College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University, would develop science-based recommendations for the co-location of crops and solar power arrays while promoting biodiversity of flora and fauna. The research will provide guidance on best practices on implementing agrivoltaics throughout New York State.

Dr. Benjamin Houlton, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, states: “Providing science-based, innovative solutions for farmers in a changing climate is a critical area of focus for Cornell CALS land-grant mission. We know the challenges of meeting NYS’s ambitious and laudatory goal for renewable energy will necessarily drive change in rural land use. Our goal with this vitally important new state investment in a research program in AgriVoltaics is to help NY farmers maximize opportunities as we move towards a net-zero society, while increasing local foods production. I’m so pleased with this investment in Cornell CALS, which I view as critical to our state’s future food system. I applaud Assemblymember Anna Kelles, for her staunch advocacy, deep climate knowledge, and leadership in this endeavor.”