Agrovoltaica: the future of global farming

Why agrovoltaics is useful, what it is and why it is considered one of the most promising areas of future farming – in the article.

Solar panels placed on the ground occupy a significant area. How to optimize the use of space and get the most out of it? The answer to this question is provided by agrovoltaics – a new direction in agriculture, combining the production of solar energy and farming on the same site.

How is agrovoltaic useful?

This method allows not only to economically use the area, but also to increase the yield – up to 1.6 times, experts say. First, the photo panels installed above the fields are used for:

  • power supply for drip and dosed irrigation systems;
  • power supply of water injection systems into special water supply tanks;
  • limiting the level of solar radiation that goes to growing crops;
  • the formation of an optimal shading system, which affects, first of all, the growth of the yield up to 70%;
  • a nutritional system that monitors and adjusts soil nutrient and moisture levels.

Global problems of the world

The possibilities of agrovoltaics are studied by specialists around the world, regularly discovering more and more new advantages of this area. One of the most significant discoveries to date is the use of solar power plants to eliminate the problem of lack of drinking water. So scientists have designed a portable steam generator powered by solar energy, which purifies and desalinates groundwater in the process of its evaporation. This discovery is already called a real breakthrough, much needed for regions with an arid climate or polluted groundwater.

Solving the problem of space allocation

The value of agrovoltaics is that it eliminates the main disadvantage of solar energy – idle land on large areas of solar farms. Now experts are trying to allocate plots unsuitable for agriculture for SES. But as scientists at the University of Hohenheim managed to prove, combining solar stations and agriculture in one area is not only possible, but also profitable. For the experiment, which lasted three years, a 194 kW solar station was constructed on a part of the cropland. The panels were specially placed at a height of five meters above the ground so that the structures did not interfere with the work of agricultural machinery. Various crops were planted under them (wheat, potatoes, celery). As a result, their yield exceeded the pre-experimental period by 20%.

The agrovoltaic paradox

Agrovoltaica helps not only to save space, provide farming with energy for its own needs, but also to increase the yield of areas due to the creation of partial shade over the fields.

Why combined land use leads to higher yields was explained by Italian agronomists. From year to year, they operate such farms and are confident that they get a larger wheat yield precisely due to the optimal shading of the fields with solar panels. They are supported by French researchers. They went further in this matter and conducted an experiment, the task of which was to find the optimal level of shading for the fields. As a result of the work of specialists, it was possible to prove that many vegetable and berry crops grow better not in the open sun, but in partial shade. In addition, this method of shading demonstrates another guaranteed plus for agriculture: a decrease in the level of moisture evaporation in the soil by up to 30%.

Scientists from all over the world join the conclusions of European experts. They confirm that agrovoltaics helps not only save space, provide farming with energy for their own needs, but also increase the yield of areas by creating partial shade over the fields.