Local Zoning and the Regulation of Solar Farms on Agricultural Land: Helping or Hindering the Transition to Renewable Energy?

There is no national study of the regulation of solar farms, based on location and size, or on the variety of zoning ordinances that are being used to regulate solar farms. This project studies the zoning ordinances that regulate solar farms in agricultural areas. It seeks to answer three key research questions: 

  • What is the extent of the potential land competition between solar farms and agricultural production?
  • How can local governments regulate solar farms to minimize the loss of agricultural production while expanding renewable energy production? 
  • Can a model zoning ordinance be created that strikes a balance between the development of solar farms and the protection of agricultural land?  

Grant Result

Farmland is attractive for utility-scale solar because of the large land parcels needed. This study reviewed how zoning has been used to approve or deny solar projects on farmland.

Read the Digest

Tom Daniels

Crossways Professor, City and Regional Planning
Tom Daniels is the Crossways Professor of city and regional planning at the Weitzman School. Daniels directs the concentration in Land Use and Environmental Planning.