Iowa State, Alliant Energy dedicate solar farm south of Ames

Ames, Iowa – Iowa State University (ISU) and Alliant Energy celebrated the completion of construction on the Alliant Energy Solar Farm at Iowa State University earlier today. The new solar farm will contribute to the university’s long-term sustainability goals and the company’s transition to renewable energy.

“The Alliant Energy Solar Farm at Iowa State University represents an innovative public-private partnership that broadens our portfolio of renewable energy used to power the university,” said Wendy Wintersteen, president of Iowa State University. “Thanks to our Alliant Energy partners, the solar farm also will serve as a one-of-a-kind agricultural setting for our faculty, staff and students to explore solar energy topics through research, education and extension and outreach.”

Under a lease agreement with ISU, Alliant Energy designed and constructed the 1.375-megawatt solar farm, which features 3,300 solar panels and is capable of generating energy to power 200 homes. Part of the Alliant Energy® Customer-Hosted Renewables program, the solar farm will generate renewable energy credits for the university to offset a portion of its carbon emissions.

"The Alliant Energy Solar Farm at ISU is our company’s first customer-hosted solar project to complete construction in Iowa, as well as the first to incorporate agrivoltaics,” said Mayuri Farlinger, vice president of customer and community engagement, Alliant Energy. “We are proud this solar farm will advance the concept of agrivoltaics – that land can be used for energy production and agriculture, simultaneously. This project advances our mission to deliver the energy solutions our customers and communities can count on in a unique way.”

Alliant Energy will operate and maintain the solar farm while partnering with the university on agrivoltaics opportunities for research and education activities at the site.

“This is a remarkable project on many levels, and what’s truly unique is that it’s a functioning solar farm designed from the start to allow us access to teaching, research and extension possibilities,” said Daniel J. Robison, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Located on 10 acres of university land south of Ames, part of the animal science teaching and research farms managed by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its Department of Animal Science, the site is also home to beef, sheep, swine, poultry and dairy farms, as well as the Ag450 Farm, the only student-managed farm at the nation’s land-grant schools.

The initial major project will be first-of-its-kind agrivoltaics research to be conducted in the state of Iowa. With a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, ISU researchers will raise bees and plant vegetables, fruits and create a pollinator habitat. The researchers will begin plantings on the solar farm this fall, and over four years study the impacts of energy generation on horticultural crops and beekeeping production.

Project results may help guide future decisions on the economic, energy and safety considerations of marrying large-scale solar projects with agricultural production on farms.

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