In our Trending Solar Applications Series, we will review current and future trends in the solar market. The first chapter of our series was about mobility & solar carports. We then looked at floating solar. This week, we will learn more about agrivoltaics (Agri-PV).
Agrivoltaics: what is it?
It is a well-known fact that solar energy farms use a lot of lands. But the land is also used for food production and other vital activities for human life. This competition is an obstacle to the development of solar energy. Grounded solar installations also have impacts on wildlife and ecosystems. Agri-PV is one way of avoiding this land competition.
Agri-PV is a way of combining energy production and food production on the same plot of land. In simple words, crops can grow in the shaded space under solar panels. Instead of agriculture, that space under the solar panels can be used for animal husbandry.
The developers have to adapt each Agri-PV solar plant to the land. For example, the size of the agriculture machines used on the land will impact the height of the panels. It is the same thing regarding the space between the PV modules. The density of solar panels needs to be big enough to produce electricity, but not too big as crops need some space between the panels to get enough sunlight.
Agrivoltaics: A solution to the energy and food production crises？
There are several types of agrivoltaic installations, for example:
-Viticulture and arboriculture under the shade of solar panels
-Solar panels on top of greenhouses
-Higher ground-mounted system height than usual to enable agriculture
There are multiple benefits for the solar installer.
Firstly, already cultivated land doesn’t need any geotechnical works for solar installation. This means the development cost of reduced. Avoiding the competition between solar and agriculture will also it easier for the developers to get their projects accepted. This will improve social acceptance as well. Finally, water evaporation has a cooling effect on solar panels and helps improve the energy yield of the installation.
Several studies have shown the tremendous effects agrivoltaics have on agriculture as well.
For the landowner, agrivoltaic installation means reduced electricity costs and an additional revenue stream. It also helps reduce water use. In terms of crop yield, the installation brings a lot of advantages. The installation provides protection from weather conditions (rain, snow, heavy sunlight, etc.) and helps keep the temperature constant. The agriculture yields are increased.
If we converted only 1% of agricultural land into agrivoltaic systems, it would be enough to fulfill the world’s electricity demand.
A market overview
The market size of Agri-PV in 2022 was USD 3.17 billion and is expected to reach USD 8.9 billion in 2030 (annual growth of 12.15%).
Japan was the first country to launch specific incentives for agrivoltaics in 2012. Since then, many countries have put in place similar schemes: France, China, the US, etc.
Last year, several French PV companies have set up together the first agrivoltaic association in the country. The goal of the association is to promote the benefits of agrivoltaics to the people and the authorities. Whereas The French Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe) has clearly established the industry standards for agrivoltaics.
To know more about the subject: Agrivoltaics: Opportunities for Agriculture and the Energy Transition
Find out more in the other parts of our series:
Trending solar application II: Floating solar