Episode 23:
Solar + Ag: Cultivating a Sunny Future
Presented by Central Pacific Bank

Wednesday, October 11, 2023
6:00 – 9:00 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Hoʻokupu Center
1125 Ala Moana Boulevard | Honolulu, HI 96813

The collaboration between utility-scale solar farms and agricultural farmers is set to revolutionize Hawai’i’s sustainable landscape. Presented by Central Pacific Bank, SOLAR + AG: CULTIVATING A SUNNY FUTURE will shed light on exciting collaborations in Hawai’i.

EAT THINK DRINK will also welcome back some of our favorite chefs! Following the program, enjoy a walk-around dinner inspired by locally sourced ingredients set against the backdrop of the breathtaking Pacific. Savor an array of dishes, each prepared by a different Hawai’i chef.

Herds of sheep and goat grazing under solar panels stretching across acres of agricultural land across the state has become commonplace. Today, new partnerships with clean energy companies are providing more benefits to farmers and Hawaiʻi’s energy and food security goals. Among the benefits:
• Solar land leases supplement income giving farmers financial stability, empowering them to further invest in their agricultural pursuits.
• Solar farms provide shade, reducing evaporation, optimizing water usage, and creating an ideal environment for crops to thrive.
• Solar powered irrigation systems and farm operations can significantly reduce costs and the reliance on fossil fuels.

Join us and hear how agrovoltaics – a concept that involves combining traditional farming with solar energy generation on the same land – can help ensure a steady supply of locally grown produce for our communities and reduce our carbon footprint.

Our keynote speaker and panelists will share news on current and emerging projects, the benefits of partnerships to their respective businesses and industries, and what they together envision for clean energy and sustainable agriculture in Hawaiʻi.

Wren Wescoatt, Longroad Energy

Richard Matsui, Advisor – U.S. Department of Energy

Jason Brand, President, Brand Industrial Group Inc.
Juli Burden, Hawaiʻi Agriculture Research Center (HARC)
Mark Glick, Chief Energy Officer, State of Hawaiʻi
Nicola Park, Director, Hawaii – Clearway Energy Group


Roy Yamaguchi, Roy’s Restaurants
Jon Mastubara, Feast
Jacob Silver, Hoʻokupu Center
Keaka Lee, Kapa Hale

$85 Early Bird Tickets | $95 Regular Price Tickets – Begins October 1
Your ticket includes dinner and two (2) drinks from a selection of beer and wine.

According to a recent U.S. Department of Energy report, it’s now possible to envision a future where solar provides 40% of the nation’s electricity by 2035. Farmers and farmland will play a key role and could require about 5.7 million acres, or 0.3% of the U.S. contiguous land area. Agrivoltaics – combining agriculture and solar photovoltaic generation on the same land –looks at agriculture and solar energy production as complimentary to the other instead of as competitors. Allowing working lands to stay working, agrivoltaic systems could help farms diversify income. Other benefits include energy resilience, and a reduced carbon footprint.
Based on data collected so far by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, there are over 2.8 GW of agrivoltaic sites in the U.S., the majority of which involve sheep grazing and/or pollinator habitat. Growing crops under solar panels has been largely confined to research test plots, though this is beginning to change. At least five commercial solar-crop sites are operating in Colorado, Massachusetts, and Maine, and many states are encouraging agrovoltaics through incentives or research.

For the solar industry, agrivoltaics has the potential to facilitate siting of solar installations, improve solar PV panel performance by cooling the panels, and lower operations and maintenance costs by limiting the need for mowing.

For communities, agrivoltaics could help keep farmland in production – and help sustain rural farmland economies. More research is needed, however, to understand whether – and under what conditions – communities are likely to support solar development if it combines both energy and agriculture.

The U.S. Department of Energy also sees it as a possible solution and is funding $15 million in research on how agrivoltaics could work for farmers, the solar industry, and communities.
(Source: Office of Energy Efficienty & Renewable Energy)

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