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Economic impact of substituting solar photovoltaic electric production for tobacco farming
|By Michigan Tech's Open Sustainability Technology Lab.
Wanted: Students to make a distributed future with solar-powered open-source 3-D printing.
Pearce Publications: Energy Conservation • Energy Policy • Industrial Symbiosis • Life Cycle Analysis • Materials Science • Open Source • Photovoltaic Systems • Solar Cells • Sustainable Development • Sustainability Education
- R. Krishnan and J. M. Pearce. Economic impact of substituting solar photovoltaic electric production for tobacco farming. Land Use Policy, 72, (2018), pp. 503–509. doi: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.01.010 open access
Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology represents a promising method to prevent dangerous global climate change, however full solar penetration demands substantial surface areas, possibly encroaching on arable land. To avoid repeating the mistakes of previous attempts to convert agricultural land to energy, arable land currently used for crops with known health hazards can be considered for conversion. Tobacco is the leading cause of avoidable death globally, and despite increasingly stringent controls on tobacco, economics provides an incentive to continue tobacco production. However, with the economics of PV ever improving, this study investigates the potential economic benefits of photovoltaic conversion of farms during tobacco's decline. This study analyzes key factors influencing conventional tobacco farming economics in the U.S. over a sensitivity of realistic future values. Then tobacco crop profit is compared to a sensitivity analysis covering the profits of solar PV farming on the same land. The results show that considering existing electric prices, escalation rates, and installed costs, PV farm substitution for tobacco farming makes economic sense in many U.S. cases already. In a case study of North Carolina, 30GW of PV power capacity was found to be economically viable on existing tobacco farms and if conversion took place over 2000 premature deaths could be prevented from pollution reduction alone. This meets the State's peak summer loads. Land use policies are discussed to facilitate such land use conversions for the benefit of the economy, the environment and human health.
- Large arable land conversion to solar PV farms to meet growing demand.
- Decline in tobacco farming economics, potential arable land for PV farming.
- Growing PV economics, sensitivity analysis on tobacco and PV farming key factors.
- Calculation of tobacco and PV farming profit over 25 years with various sensitivities.
- Many cases where PV farming is more profitable than tobacco farming.
Agriculture; Photovoltaic; Farming; Solar farm; Economics Land use; Economic impact; Tobacco
See also other papers looking for land area for PV
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- Agrivoltaic potential on grape farms in India
- Dual use of land for PV farms and agriculture literature review
- Aquavoltaics: Synergies for dual use of water area for solar photovoltaic electricity generation and aquaculture
- General Design Procedures for Airport-Based Solar Photovoltaic Systems
- A good example in NC
- A Farmer's Guide to Going Solar (NREL)
- Coal with Carbon Capture and Sequestration is not as Land Use Efficient as Solar Photovoltaic Technology for Climate Neutral Electricity Production
- Could 79 People Solarize the U.S. Electric Grid?
In the News
- Farm Sunshine, Not Cancer: Replacing Tobacco Fields with Solar Arrays -
- reddit, Journal of Science/ Environment, 
- Tobacco Farmers May Make More Money Harvesting Sun - Yahoo Finance (6)
- Solar Panels Could Make More Money in North Carolina than Tobacco - The Weather Channel (300)
- Farmers Might Want to Swap Tobacco Plants for Solar Panels -Popular Mechanics (4675)
- Converting tobacco farms into solar farms is a win-win, says new study - Big Think (11641)
- Converting Tobacco Farms to Solar Energy Farms has Major Potential for Energy Production - Electronics 360 (21275)
- Tobacco farms transformed into solar farms could benefit all, study suggests - E&T (24971)
- Converting Tobacco Farms To Solar Fields Could Be A Win For Everyone A Plus (55285)
- New Paper Suggests Replacing Tobacco Farms With Solar Panels - Modern Farmer (68280)
- MTU: Replacing Tobacco Fields with Solar Arrays -UP Matters
- Where To Build New Solar Arrays? Solar Thermal Magazine
- The unexpected benefits of replacing tobacco plantations with solar farms - PV Magazine
- Selling sunlight more profitable than selling cancer - The Fifth Estate
- From Peddling Death To Producing Clean Power? - Solar Quotes
- Study highlights economic benefit of farming sunshine instead of tobacco Choose Energy
- Why farmers should swap tobacco plants for solar panels - Optimists Daily
- Converting Tobacco Fields into Solar Farms Can Save Half a Million Lives a Year JSTOR Daily
- Renewable makeover: Michigan farmers switching from tobacco to solar arrays Nature News (15125)
- Turning Tobacco Fields into Solar Farms Engineering (29608), Solar Energy IE News (79677), The Independent
- Make solar power, not tobacco Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (537)
- Solar statt Tabak würde sich lohnen - The WallStreet Online Germany (13069)
- DINNER PARTY INTEL: Solar to smoke out tobacco? Business Live- Financial Mail (25637)- South Africa
- Los inesperados beneficios de sustituir plantaciones de tabaco por granjas solares PV Magazine Latin America (Spanish)
- Pestujme energiu, nie rakovinu – Náhrada tabakových plantáží solárnymi panelmi - Zaujímavý Svet (Slovak)
- Farmen: Solar statt Tabak würde sich lohnen Prikk
- سود بیشتر کشاورزان از برداشت نور خورشید بهجای itresan(15939) Persian
- UURING: Tubakafarmerid teeniksid rohkem, kui asendaksid põllud päikesepaneelidega Pealinn (Estonia)
- 美国研究表明可将烟田转为太阳能农场 Tobacco China
- Farmerzy z Michigan zamieniają „farmy raka” na farmy fotowoltaiczne (Michigan farmers are turning 'cancer farms' into solar farms) Swiatoze (Poland)
- Sugieren Granjas Solares por Plantaciones de Tabaco - Tecnologia Ambiental