North Carolina (NC) is a large producer of utility-scale solar power and most of the photovoltaics are located on former agricultural lands (solar farms). In 2017 4% of NC power was generated by solar, but plans are in place for higher percentages, which could have consequences for food production and water quality. Geospatial data sets were used to characterize NC watersheds by solar farm development potential. Twenty-seven watersheds were identified as good candidates due to abundance of agricultural lands, presence of high-power transmission lines, and existence of agriculturally impaired waterbodies. These watersheds were somewhat distributed throughout the state, but especially focused in Union County, and 33% contain at least one solar farm. An energy generation model found that for the 27 targeted watersheds, only 2.6% of agricultural land would need to be converted to increase solar's energy portfolio to 5%; and 21.7% would need to be converted to increase it to 12.5%.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 48-64
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.