Agrivoltaics pilot plant at Heggelbach Farm in Germany 5.jpg

Agrivoltaics or agrophotovoltaics means co-developing the same area of land for both solar photovoltaic power and agricultural production.[1] The coexistence of solar panels and crops implies a sharing of light between these two types of production.[2] It can be defined as the practice of integrating solar photovoltaics with agricultural practices, for siting photovoltaic production systems on or adjacent to cropland or grazing land. It implies the symbiotic co-production of both agricultural goods and solar energy, with the intent of optimizing the combined outputs. An Ontario company calls Agrivoltaics "a perfect combination of solar panels and plants on farmland... to generate crops and energy simultaneously and without conflict." Agrivoltaics can be thought of as the scientifically planned companion planting of solar energy production and agricultural production.

This page introduces the topic and is intended to help users to find specific content based on geographic focus, climate type, crop or animal production type, and other factors.

Where does agrivoltaics fit within the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?

Where does agrivoltaics fit within the context of the Pattern Language for a Conservation Economy and Reliable Prosperity?

Related pages on Appropedia[edit | edit source]

Welcome to the Free Appropriate Sustainable Technology (FAST) research group run by Professor Joshua Pearce, the Thompson Chair in Information Technology and Innovation at the Thompson Centre for Engineering Leadership & Innovation. He holds appointments at Ivey Business School, the top ranked business school in Canada and the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Western University in Canada, a top 1% global university. Western is ranked #3 in the world for sustainability and Ivey is as well among business schools. FAST helps Western achieve its sustainability goals as we explore the way solar photovoltaic technology can sustainably power our society and how open-source hardware like open source appropriate technologies (or OSAT) and RepRap 3-D printing can drive distributed recycling and additive manufacturing (DRAM) (and maybe even social change).
Welcome to the news portal of Free Appropriate Sustainable Technology (FAST).
To enable lower-cost building materials, a free-swinging bifacial vertical solar photovoltaic (PV) rack has been proposed, which complies with Canadian building codes and is the lowest capital-cost agrivoltaics rack. The wind force applied to the free-swinging PV, however, causes it to have varying tilt angles depending on the wind speed and direction. No energy performance model accurately describes such a system. To provide a simulation model for the free-swinging PV, where wind speed and direction govern the array tilt angle, this study builds upon the open-source System Advisor Model (SAM) using Python. After the SAM python model is validated, a geometrical analysis is performed to determine the view factors of the swinging bifacial PV, which are then used to calculate the solar irradiation incident on the front and back faces of the bifacial PV modules. The findings reveal that free-swinging PV generates 12% more energy than vertical fixed-tilt PV systems. Free-swinging PV offers the lowest capital cost and the racking levelized cost is over 30% lower than the LCOE of other agrivoltaics racks including the LCOE of commercial fixed-tilt metal racking, optimized fixed-tilt wood racking PV, and seasonally adjusted wood racking PV.
Popular agrivoltaic systems use photovoltaic (PV) farms for pasture grazing animals. In general, these agrivoltaic systems do not reduce the capital cost of a PV farm and in some cases can increase it. To overcome this challenge this study investigates the potential for retrofitting existing animal fencing on farms to have dual use for vertical-mounted monofacial PV racking. Specifically, this study catalogs types of fences and wind load calculations classified under Risk Category I are run through a new python-based Open Source Wind Load Calculator to determine the viability of fence-based racking throughout the U.S. The base shear force for all the fences are calculated for a range of wind loads from 80mph to 150mph (129 km/h to 241 km/h) and the results are mapped to indicate the number of PV modules between the vertical fence poles a fence can tolerate in a specific location. The results show the required fence type including post and battens in a given area for sheep, goats, pigs, cows, and alpaca to be used for agrivoltaics. Overall, at least one PV module between posts is acceptable indicating a new agrivoltaic system potential that as little as $0.035/kWh for racking on existing fencing. Although the yield for a vertical PV can range from 20 to 76 % of an optimized tilt angle depending on azimuth, the racking cost savings enable fence-retrofit agrivoltaics to often produce lower levelized cost electricity. Future work is necessary to determine the full scope of benefits of vertical PV agricultural fencing on a global scale.
Trellis PV.png
Using a trellis to plant vegetables and fruits can double or triple the yield per acre as well as reduce diseases/pests, ease harvesting and make cleaner produce. Cultivars such as cucumbers, grapes, kiwi, melons, peas, passion fruit, pole beans, pumpkins, strawberries, squash, and tomatoes are all grown with trellises. Many of these cultivars showed increased yield with partial shading with semi-transparent solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. To further increase the efficiency of trellis-based growing systems, this study investigates novel low-cost, open-source, sustainable, wood-based PV racking designs for agrivoltaic applications. Design calculations are made to ensure these racks exceed Canadian building code standards, which with snow loads surpass those of most of the world. A complete bill of materials, fabrication instructions, and proof-of-concept prototypes are provided for three system topographies (sloped, T-shaped and inverse Y) along with economic analysis. In addition, to being cost competitive, the designs can act as trellis supports and be used for irrigation/fertigation purposes. The results indicate that these racking structures have enormous promise both agriculturally and energetically. If employed on only grape farms inside Canada, 10 GW of PV potential is made available, which is more than twice the total current installed PV in Canada.
Vertical Swinging Wooden PV Racking Graphical Abstract.jpg
Vertical bifacial solar photovoltaic (PV) racking systems offer the opportunity for large-scale agrivoltaics to be employed at farms producing field crops with conventional farming equipment. Unfortunately, commercial proprietary vertical racks cost more than all types of conventional PV farm racking solutions. To overcome these cost barriers, this study reports on the development of a new wood-based PV racking design. The open-source design consists of a hinge mechanism, which reduces mechanical loading and enables wood to be used as the main structural material, and is the first of its kind. This open-source vertical wood-based PV rack is (i) constructed from locally accessible (domestic) renewable and sustainable materials, (ii) able to be made with hand tools by the average farmer on site, (iii) possesses a 25-year lifetime to match PV warranties, and (iv) is structurally sound, following Canadian building codes to weather high wind speeds and heavy snow loads. The results showed that the capital cost of the racking system is less expensive than the commercial equivalent and all of the previous wood-based rack designs, at a single unit retail cost of CAD 0.21. The racking LCOE is 77% of the cost of an equivalent commercial racking system using retail small-scale component costs, and is 22%, 34%, and 38% less expensive than commercial metal vertical racking, wood fixed tilt racking, and wood seasonal tilt racking costs, respectively. Overall, wooden vertical swinging PV racking provides users with a low-cost, highly available alternative to conventional metal vertical racking, along with a potential increase in energy yield in high wind areas thanks to its unique swinging mechanism.

Scholarly literature about Agrivoltaics in General[edit | edit source]

Scholarly literature about Agrivoltaics for Specific Crops and Animals[edit | edit source]

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References[edit | edit source]

  1. Dinesh, Harshavardhan; Pearce, Joshua M. (2016). "The potential of agrivoltaic systems". Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54: 299–308. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2015.10.024.
  2. "A New Vision for Farming: Chickens, Sheep, and ... Solar Panels" (in en). 2020-04-28. Retrieved 2020-07-19.
FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Page data
Keywords food, agriculture, energy, solar
SDG SDG07 Affordable and clean energy
Authors Uzair Jamil, Tom Stanton
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 7 pages link here
Aliases Agrivoltaic
Impact 1,474 page views
Created February 26, 2021 by Tom Stanton
Modified October 23, 2023 by StandardWikitext bot
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