Solar Farm Near Ames Will Research Plants, Bees

Photo: Alliant Energy

(Ames, IA) -- Alliant Energy's Solar Farm near Iowa State University is now complete and will be operational early next year. The farm, south of Ames has 33 hundred solar panels and can generate energy to power 200 homes. In addition to solar energy, researchers will raise bees and plant vegetables on-site, to study the impact of energy generation on horticultural crops and beekeeping.

The 10 acre location is the first to incorporate agrivoltaics, where the land can be used for energy and agriculture simulateously.

“The Alliant Energy Solar Farm at Iowa State University represents an innovative public-private partnership that broadens our portfolio of renewable energy used to power the university,” said Wendy Wintersteen, president of Iowa State University. “Thanks to our Alliant Energy partners, the solar farm also will serve as a one-of-a-kind agricultural setting for our faculty, staff and students to explore solar energy topics through research, education and extension and outreach.”

The solar farm will generate renewable energy credits for the university to offset a portion of its carbon emissions.

Alliant Energy will operate and maintain the solar farm while partnering with the university on agrivoltaics opportunities for research and education activities at the site.

“This is a remarkable project on many levels, and what’s truly unique is that it’s a functioning solar farm designed from the start to allow us access to teaching, research and extension possibilities,” said Daniel J. Robison, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Located on 10 acres of university land south of Ames, part of the animal science teaching and research farms managed by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its Department of Animal Science, the site is also home to beef, sheep, swine, poultry and dairy farms, as well as the Ag450 Farm, the only student-managed farm at the nation’s land-grant schools.

ISU received a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for the project. The researchers will begin plantings on the solar farm this fall, and over four years study the impacts of energy generation on horticultural crops and beekeeping production.

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