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As climate changes, solar energy is now key to farming

As climate change causes increasingly catastrophic and frequent droughts and floods around the world, farmers are searching for ways to adapt to these changing conditions. It has become increasingly difficult for rural farmers to predict weather patterns, and lack of access to additional water sources can mean financial ruin and starvation for these farmers, their families, and their communities. Solar energy is now key to farming

But organizations have realized that, with a bit of innovation, solar energy can be used to do much more than light up a room. Here are some incredible projects in which farmers around the world are harnessing the power of the sun.

A partnership between SMA, the world’s largest suppliers of solar inverters, and a company called Farm from a Box, is providing a one-stop, off-grid solution that can feed 150 people. Deemed the “Swiss-Army knife” of sustainable farming, this modified shipping container provides everything needed to run a 2-acre farm. Complete with 10 solar PV panels, batteries for energy storage, and a backup generator, the farm kit is ideal for rebuilding communities after disaster strikes, or for refugee camps. But these farms could also be used to uplift remote farming communities or provide residents of food desert communities with fresh produce among an abundance of fast-food chains. Get all of the details about Farm from a box here.

Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works to design and implement creative solar energy solutions to uplift communities around the world. SELF’s projects in Benin have drastically changed the way that the country’s villagers live. This video shows how a solar-powered drip irrigation system has disrupted the cycle of hunger, poverty, and malnutrition in Benin. For more information on SELF’s projects in Benin and around the world, click here.

Exact Solar proudly donates to SELF each year in the names of all of our wonderful customers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania who are now also using solar energy to power their homes and businesses. Please consider supporting their missions by donating here.

Thanks to a project supported by the Energy Commission of Ghana and the United Nations Development Programme, four rural farming communities in Ghana now rely on solar-powered irrigation pumps to water their crops. This region only receives an average annual rainfall of 750mm to 1,050mm, typically allowing one harvest each year. Thanks to the solar pumps, farmers can now expect at least three harvests each year and are no longer living under the looming possibility that their crops will die and their families and communities will starve. Solar-powered pumps have changed the lives of Hawa Adams (pictured above) and her family.

Even large-scale industrial farms are adding solar energy into their business models to increase crop production and cut energy costs. There has been negativity concerning the land that large solar farms require. But Piedmont Biofarms, a part of Piedmont Biofuels Industrial Complex in Pittsboro, North Carolina, installed their panels in a place that will benefit certain crops: directly above them. The practice, deemed “double cropping,” of installing a raised, ground-mounted solar PV system above shade-loving crops allows renewable energy and sustainably-grown food to be produced on the same land. The panels can protect crops such as tomatoes, which prefer to be watered at the roots, from being drowned by too much rain and dried out by too much sun.

We believe that solar energy holds many of the answers to the problems that we face in our world today. With just a little innovation and creativity, we can harness the power of the sun and create a sustainable world for all of the generations to come.

Written by Sarah Bergen. Sarah is the Office Manager at Exact Solar. She has a background in journalism and is passionate about fighting climate change. She can be reached at [email protected].

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