The main advantages of agrivoltaics include:
- Energy efficiency: solar panels can provide clean energy for agricultural operations and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
- Sustainability: this method can contribute to environmental protection by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the sustainability of farming practices.
- Water savings: shading crops with solar panels can reduce evaporation and improve irrigation efficiency.
- Increased yield: some crops can have higher yields when grown under solar panels because the shading can help protect them from extreme weather such as heavy rain or sunlight.
- Income diversification: farmers can earn income from the sale of solar energy, which increases financial stability and reduces dependence on a single source of income.
Agrivoltaics is a constantly researching and innovating field that is evolving to bring even greater benefits to agriculture and energy.
Which crops are suitable for growing under PV and why?
Some crops are more suitable for growing under agrivoltaic systems than others. The choice of crops depends on several factors, such as the climatic conditions, the level of shading provided by the solar panels and the light requirements of each crop.
Here are a few crops that are usually considered suitable for growing under agrivoltaics:
- Crop rotation: in some cases, different crops can be rotated under the solar panels. This can include cereals, legumes, root crops or vegetables.
- Pasture and forage: Grasses and other forage crops are often grown under solar panels for livestock. Shading can reduce heat stress and improve forage growth.
- Vegetables with lower light requirements: some vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, radishes or cabbage can be grown under solar panels because they have lower light requirements and can tolerate a certain level of shading.
- Stress-tolerant crops: crops that are adapted to grow in stressful conditions, such as dry areas or areas with high levels of sunlight, can also benefit from growing under agrivoltaic systems. Examples include cacti, agaves or some types of alfalfa.
- Crops with a long growing season: Some crops, such as fruit trees or vines, can also benefit from growing under solar panels as they can have long growing seasons and can tolerate a certain level of shading.
It is important that the specific needs of the crop and location are taken into account when planning the agrivoltaic system, and that factors such as light requirements, shading, irrigation and temperature are properly considered.
Example studies on the benefits of growing crops under Agri-Photovoltaics
Agrophotovoltaic systems: applications, challenges, and opportunities. A review
One study that confirms the benefits of growing crops under PV is “Agrophotovoltaic systems: applications, challenges, and opportunities. A review” by Barron-Gafford et al. (2019), published in the journal “Agronomy for Sustainable Development”. This study analyses the benefits and challenges associated with agrivoltaics and provides evidence of its positive impact on agricultural production and energy efficiency.
The authors of the study evaluate various aspects of agrivoltaic systems, including the performance of solar panels, impact on water management, soil quality and microclimate, and explore different application scenarios such as crop, livestock and aquaculture.
Some of the main findings of the study include:
- Agrivoltaics can lead to higher overall land yields than traditional farming or solar systems separately.
- Solar panels can provide shading and protection for crops, which can improve their growth and reduce heat stress.
- Agrivoltaic systems can reduce evaporation and improve irrigation efficiency, which is important in areas with limited water resources.
- Joint management of agricultural and solar infrastructure can lead to cost savings and efficiency gains.
- Agrivoltaics can contribute to the sustainability of agriculture and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This study confirms that growing crops under PV can be very profitable if the specific needs of the crop, location and systems are properly considered.
Reference: Barron-Gafford, G.A., Pavao-Zuckerman, M.A., Minor, R.L. et al. (2019). Agrophotovoltaic systems: applications, challenges, and opportunities. A review. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 39, 35. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-019-0571-3
Combining solar photovoltaic panels and food crops for optimising land use: Towards new agrivoltaic schemes
Another example of a study that explores the benefits of growing crops under PV is “Combining solar photovoltaic panels and food crops for optimising land use: Towards new agrivoltaic schemes” by Dinesh et al. (2016), published in the journal Renewable Energy. This study focuses on analysing the potential of combining solar panels and agricultural crops to optimise land use and increase efficiency.
Some of the main findings of the study include:
- The combination of solar panels and agricultural crops can improve land use, which is important in areas with limited space.
- Optimizing the design of agrivoltaic systems, such as panel placement and orientation, can increase energy efficiency and agricultural production.
- The study explores various options for combining solar panels and crops, including vertical farming, horticulture and aquatic crops.
- The authors identify potential challenges and barriers to the implementation of agrivoltaic systems, such as costs, technical constraints and legislation.
This study provides further evidence of the benefits of growing crops under PV and highlights the need for further research and innovation to develop new agrivoltaic solutions.
Reference: Dinesh, H., Pearce, J. M., & Udayakumar, K. (2016). Combining solar photovoltaic panels and food crops for optimising land use: Towards new agrivoltaic schemes. Renewable Energy, 99, 470-480. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2016.07.036
- Design of agrivoltaic systems
- Personalized system design for optimal use of space and resources
- Assessment of suitable crops for your project
- Energy and economic analysis
- Production and installation
- Production of designs and supply of high-end solar panels and components
- Professional installation of agrivoltaic systems
- Integration with existing agricultural and energy infrastructure
- Monitoring and maintenance
- Continuous performance monitoring of agrivoltaic systems
- Regular maintenance and service for maximum life and performance
- Fast and reliable support when needed
- Increasing land yields by combining agriculture and solar energy
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable agriculture
- Saving energy costs and increasing the value of farmland
- Supporting the local economy and creating jobs