China’s leaders are considering a ban on solar panels on farmland


China could ban solar developers from building modules on farmland as the government weighs the importance of food security against its clean energy goals.

Three ministries, including the National Energy Administration, are circulating to comment on a draft proposal that would close forests and cultivated farmland to solar energy development, industry media Polaris Solar Network reported on its WeChat account, citing a copy of the document. Telephone calls to the NEA office on Friday went unanswered.

The proposal would still allow solar panels on some agricultural land, such as land used for farm equipment or buildings. It also encourages the development of underutilized land, like the massive solar and wind farms being built in the Gobi desert.

The national proposal follows provinces’ efforts to keep renewable energy away from productive farmland. In early June, Henan province restricted wind and sun to plots deemed “unstable” and not used permanently for growing crops. Shandong officials stopped accepting applications for permits to build solar panels on farmland in November.

China is a world leader in land sharing between solar energy and agriculture, an area known as agrivoltaics. They accounted for more than two-thirds of the 2.8 gigawatts of such capacity installed worldwide at the end of 2020, according to the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Germany.

In addition to the NEA, the proposal was issued by the Department of Natural Resources and the National Forest and Grassland Administration. The proposal was dated June 15 and it’s unclear when the deadline for comments will be.

Bloomberg China’s leaders are considering a ban on solar panels on farmland

Fry Electronics Team

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