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Agri-Photovoltaics: A renewable energy solution for food production

agri-photovoltaics - cleanbuild

Agri-Photovoltaics: A renewable energy solution for food production

Climate change is not only destroying our ecosystem but also exposing the gap in our energy, food, and water systems.

The agriculture industry as we know it uses a huge amount of resources, especially water and energy. In addition to that, it contributes about one-third of greenhouse gases emission.

As the human population grows, so also is the demand for food. This means increased food production. How then can a resilient food production and renewable energy system be integrated into farming? This is where Agri-Photovoltaics (Agri PV) comes in.

Agri-Photovoltaics (Agri PV) is a system where PV modules are installed above crops in order to enhance climate resilience while simultaneously enabling sustainable food and energy production on the same land.

With this system, food production and solar energy production are combined to achieve greater efficiencies in both activities.

The solar panels are positioned above the plants, helping them with just the right amount of sunlight. Excess sunlight isn’t good for plants because it results in increased water demand.

The solar panels trap the excess sunlight which in turn helps them generate more electricity. In return for the shade that solar panels provide plants, the plants help keep the solar panels cool thereby increasing their productivity.

That way, both the plants and solar panels benefit from the symbiotic relationship because they help each other perform better.

Benefits of Agri-Photovoltaics (Agri PV)
  • Reduced electricity costs and serves as a clean energy source.
  • Revenue stream diversification.
  • Increased PV performance because the plants underneath the panels cool the soil and increase solar performance.
  • Increased plant growing seasons and crop production due to solar generation.
  • Accelerate the energy transition
  • Nourish degraded lands by sheltering them.

However, despite the benefits of Agri-Photovoltaics (Agri PV), there are setbacks.

One of them is determining the type of crops that are suitable for getting the best agricultural yields due to the position of the panels. This means only crops that can be grown or harvested either by hand or light machinery should be considered.

Also, getting the best and low-cost PV modules for farming can be challenging especially in terms of photovoltaic performance. Not all solar panels are designed to fulfill crop farming requirements and at a cheaper price too.

It is therefore recommended that you analyze the various solar panel options before purchase.

Bottom line

No doubt, energy, and water are essential resources for agriculture to thrive. Many technologies have separately advanced these components but failed to address them all at once.

Thanks to Agri-Photovoltaics (Agri PV), the agriculture industry will see improved food production and reduced water use while also creating room for clean energy and additional revenue

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