Updated: Jun 18
The issue of solar parks using valuable land is a drawback to their installation. With the world's population steadily increasing, the demand for food and sustainable energy is also rising. So, why not harness solar energy while simultaneously growing fruits and vegetables? This is essentially the concept behind agrivoltaics (AV), which offers an innovative solution by combining food production and green power generation, albeit with some limitations.
Agrivoltaics refers to the practice of cultivating crops beneath solar panels. Scientific research indicates that certain crops thrive when grown in this manner. By maximizing land utilization, agrivoltaics has the potential to address the growing global population's need for both food and sustainable energy. It is also known by alternative names such as agrisolar, dual-use solar, or low-impact solar.
Various studies have revealed numerous advantages associated with this approach. Agrivoltaics can shield plants from excessive heat, cold, and harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, thereby increasing the yield of specific crops. Moreover, solar panels can help conserve freshwater supplies by reducing evaporation from plants and soil. The evaporation that does occur beneath the panels also contributes to their effectiveness by cooling them down and boosting their electricity production. Solar panels operate optimally within a temperature range of 20°C to 25°C.
However, not all crops are suitable for growth under solar panels. Additionally, the total power output is lower compared to conventional solar parks since fewer panels can fit on the same hectare of land. The primary disadvantage of agrivoltaics is the substantial upfront cost involved. Compared to traditional roof-mounted photovoltaic (PV) systems, dual-use solar systems require a more extensive and complex mounting infrastructure, which can result in triple the cost of installing flat roof PVs.
There are various methods to implement agrivoltaics systems. The most common approach is to position the panels above the crops. Solar modules are typically installed two to three meters above the ground, with enough spacing to allow some light to reach the plants. The installations can vary based on the type of PVs used, such as bi-facial or translucent panels, as well as their positioning. In some cases, the panels are fixed, while in others, they can be tilted to track the sunlight.
Agrivoltaics is not limited to crop farming alone. AV systems can be installed in meadows where grazing animals, usually sheep, can freely move behind panels mounted at a height of about one meter from the ground. Another common approach involves automated trailers that traverse the fields.
Agrivoltaics can be a viable solution for efficiently combining crop and energy production, although it may not be suitable for all types of cultivation. The high upfront costs currently hinder the widespread implementation of agrivoltaics. However, as with many other technologies, prices are expected to decline in the future, encouraging further investments in this innovative approach. Green approaches in all areas of life are essential to contribute to a more sustainable future. Empower the future with GreenView Energy.