Technology - 15/August/2019

Down on the solar farm

Cost benefit proved for combined solar and arable

Farming and solar power are often portrayed as competing for land resources, but the two are increasingly expected, with the right policy support, to occupy the same space. Pilot projects show how such co-existence can be mutually beneficial, boosting clean energy production and crop yields

Land use: Land the world over is in limited supply and constantly faces a plethora of demands. Producing food and renewable energy in the same space would help alleviate some of this pressure

Win-win: Test projects in Germany and Tuscon in the US reveal placing solar panels and crops in the same fields can boost yields and increase energy output

Key quote: “If both the benefits for agriculture and energy are taken into account, the global returns are higher and land use is also optimised”

A pilot agro-energy project near Lake Constance, on the border of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, is in its third year of producing celery, wheat, potatoes, clover and solar power. Spearheaded by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, the 194 kilowatt agrophotovoltaic (APV) system in a farming community in Heggelbach, Germany features photovoltaic (PV) panels raised eight meters above the ground and crops below. The project shows that agriculture and energy production can be effectively combined. ...

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