One of the concerns of utility scale solar plants is the land use. While wind power plants only employ aprox. 1% of the agricultural land where they are installed, a solar photovoltaic power plant normally hinders other uses for almost 100% of the power plant’s surface.
Exceptions can be found, of course, as with 2-axis single post trackers, that can be designed to allow cattle land use, as a reference with CPV in California for cows. The use of sheep under a solar field, is also a solution for maintaining the land under the panels, as in Puerto Errado, Spain (picture from Novatec Solar)
Actually,the higher the structure the bigger the cost, so it has to compensate with the land usage increase. Other solutions for crop farming (not cattle) would be, for example, moveable solar plants that cover only fallow land with wheeled structures.
But what, as far as I know, has not been developped enough, is the “grow under the panel” agriculture. I’m not refering to greenhouses with panels (I already defended in an old post the sea-water greenhouses with PV panels on top as the best solution for obtaining power+food+water from the land), but to the study of the most appropriate crops to grow under/between fixed or 1-axis tracker PV structures, a lower-cost solution. An example of this was done last year in Pennsilvania, with a tracking solar field covering mushroom farming land. Muhrooms are probably one of the most appropriate products for photovoltaic solar fields, as they don’t need direct sunlight (a crop Zeri, Gunter Pauli @MyBlueEconomy defends as key for global food security)
What if the operation and maintenance costs were covered by the agricultural production in the Solar plant? Would the agricultural revenues make the business model more resilient (more production in rainy years where power sales are lower)? Would the crop influence the solar panels selected for the power plant?
Given there are plans for many mega-utility scale solar plants (Only in Spain there are requests for more than 35 GW in photovoltaic plants on the hundreds-of-megawatts scale.), the land use optimization is a key issue. Plant designs allowing extra revenue generation while maximizing land efficiency will be the best option.