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Agrivoltaics - Synergy of the Earth and the Suns

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As PV technology develops, and as PV equipment grows and can be used for technological purposes, solar technologies move from large cities through suburbs to rural areas. This is shown in the IFC chart (International Financial Corporation, structure of the World Bank Group), see Fig. 1.

  

Pic. 1. Change of technological opportunities in the distribution of PV networks in rural areas. A source:IFC, 2017.

 

Agrivoltaics becomes mainstream and opens up new, unprecedented prospects for the development of commodity agricultural production, while simultaneously solving the problems of energy supply for these processes. The concept of agrovoltics is much deeper, more meaningful and more promising than simply placing nearby PV stations and agricultural plots nearby. It is possible to provide drip and dosed watering, water injection into reservoirs for water supply. You can accumulate 24-hour regeneration in the form of water under pressure. And at the same time, it is possible to control the level of solar radiation that comes to plants, combining with active control and correction of nutrient and moisture content in the soil... By the way, only by creating optimal shading the yield of many vegetable crops increases by 30-70% - the conclusion of authoritative studies.

 

Pic. 2. Installations for local watering and daytime water storage by PV units.

 

Opponents of the use of renewable energy declare that PV stations simply occupy land on which it is possible to grow agricultural products, and therefore if they can be installed, it is only on land that is unsuitable for agricultural production.

Long-term observations of pilot agrivoltaic farms showed that this statement, to put it mildly, is untrue. This is illustrated in Fig. 3, which demonstrated the paradox of agrivoltaic - an increase in commodity production, both in the form of agricultural products, and in the form of pure renewable energy, which can be used, including for the same agriculture. If you place the PV modules on the supports so high that they can start up conventional agricultural equipment, the overall efficiency of land use will be about 1.6 times higher even without special advantages from using electricity to intensify agricultural processes.

  

Pic. 3. Increase in the efficiency of land use on agrivoltaic farms.

 

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