Agrovoltaics : what what is it and why are they interesting

There is often a concern that advances in efficiency and green technologies use more land and more resources, with these two processes that is not the case. 

Agrovoltaics involve putting solar panels above food crops. Food crops using a very small portion of the light that falls on them, and as such can often grow very effectively under solar panels so long as they don’t cut off too much of the light. Furthermore, while putting solar panels a metre or less of the ground is cheaper, these raised solar panels have a similar cost to roof based solar. 

A wide range of crops can be grown under solar panels

However there are also advantages for the the plants growing underneath. The amount of water evaporation is vastly lower, allowing more water hungry plants to grow well with less. The lower temperature also benefits many of the plant species.

Added to this of course is the ability for the farmer to sell megawatts of electricity each year. If enough farmers entered into this business and we invested in enough battery to store it for use in the evening and at night, we would eliminate the need for gas and coal powered electricity. Perhaps supporting rollout of Silvopasture could end the need for farmers to need additional finance from the government.

In the next article I will look at Silvopasture.

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