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Agrophotovoltaic systems: Applications, Challenges & Opportunities

Agrophotovoltaic systems: Applications, Challenges & Opportunities

10 November 2021 at Waaree
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In 1982, Goetzberger and Zastrow first suggested the concept of agro-photovoltaics (APV), which was to modify solar power stations to allow further production of crops in the same region. Their idea was to raise solar collectors to 2 meters above the ground, and the gap should increase to avoid overflow of crop shades. 

They assumed that these systems would require only one-third of the incoming radiation and increase their suitability for crop use with additional technical improvements. This concept, known as agro-photovoltaic, agro-photovoltaics, Agri voltaic, and solar share, was implemented in various projects and pilot plants around the globe for about three decades.

The agri-voltaic system features combined photovoltaic and farm products in the same region. The coexistence of solar panels and crops requires light sharing for creating shade and a microclimate over the crops. The result is that the plants require fresh, thus less water and fewer losses due to evaporation.

Dynamic Agrivoltaic system

A dynamic Agrivoltaic system aims to provide mutual and balanced benefits between agriculture and energy generations, addressing the need to use efficient farming tools to combat climate change. Agri solar panels are operated by adjusting their position to the physiological needs of the plants and protecting them against frost and hail. To make real-time decisions, algorithms are combined to weather, plant modelling needs and growth cycle.

The agricultural activities and their requirements should be considered when designing and building an agri-voltaic solar plant. Soil compaction and water circulation changes can damage agricultural land quality. The size, width, and radius of rotation of agricultural equipment used for the maintenance of crops, provision, and protection of external cables, and the depth of buried cables, including personnel or agricultural machinery or animals, should also be included in the installation of Agri solar panels.

This has a positive impact on crops, water usage, and quality of products and offers additional capacity for energy production. This approach does not create land-use conflicts between farming and energy production, enabling quality lands on PV operators and farmers to increase crop production. This system meets the major challenges of sustainable development in terms of scarcity and offers true value to farmers.

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Key characteristics:

  • Reduces water use efficiency by 20% to 30%

  • Profitability for farmers up to 40 %

  • Payback to farmers is immediate.

Advantages of solar power irrigation system

Choosing a solar system includes the following advantages:

  • Operating costs are very low

  • In contrast to non-renewable energy sources, such as gas, diesel, or commercial energy grids, solar is free of charge.

  • Solar power allows the installation of an irrigation system wherever water and solar light are, regardless of whether commercial energy infrastructure is available.

  • Unlike conventional diesel or gasoline irrigation systems, they do not require fuels that emit harmful substances (CO2), contributing to additional noise pollution.

  • Accessibility and sustainable development

  • entirely renewable and affordable

  • long-term, security and time saving

  • Solar panels generate energy when no irrigation is required, consequently opening significant possibilities for power delivery to other agricultural machines, mills, water purifiers, and cooling systems, all of which contribute to rural development and extra income.

  • Research indicates that lands with solar irrigation systems are installed to increase their resale price and are increasingly attractive.

Further read: How reliable is Solar Energy?

How to develop an Agrivoltaic utility-scale PV plant?

A lot of land is needed to develop photovoltaic energy. Agricultural Solar Panel Systems combining farm and electrical production in a single unit of land are being developed to maximize land use.

An Agri solar system is an energy generation unit comprising a PV array, an inverter, and other components, electrically integrated in-service. PV panels consist of several photovoltaic cells which transform the energy from sunlight into electricity. Solar photovoltaic modules are wired together as PV strings and connected to a PV array in parallel.

The two types of solar systems are subsequently grid-connected and stand-alone solar systems. Both systems are designed to provide a direct current or alternate power source on a power grid, an independent storage system, or other electronic equipment. 

Although power can match much of the photovoltaic system's requirements with aggressive built-in PV and rooftop photovoltaics, both systems do not provide the necessary energy, particularly for high population density regions compared with solar land farms.

Agri solar systems constantly improve their technical features and vary between regions and companies. Some APV projects use solar-tracking mobile PV modules already. These maximize the photovoltaic yield and improve light availability to enable good crop production. Mobile PV panels can improve rainfall distribution under APV systems and improve light-use efficiency for both PV and crop production.

In crop production and technological management, the application of Agrivoltaic systems imposes several requirements. First, it is necessary to adjust the mounting structure of APV arrays to the requirements of farm machinery used. 

To enable agricultural machinery, the PV panels must be extended to a suitable overhead clearance. In particular, a clearance of at least 4 – 5 m is necessary for cereal cultivation with its large combined harvesting plants. The distance between the pillars must be adequate to plant distances and machine working widths to prevent loss of usable ground.

There are several opportunities for APV systems that vary depending on the regional and climate situation. The real added value of the APV technology is that it allows food and power to be produced simultaneously and provides farmers with undeniable economic and additional potential benefits.

Are you looking for any queries or technical support while installing or have problems with existing products? Visit our website or call us: 1800-2121-321. With several initiatives taken to sustain energy, solar panels have proved to be the most sufficient and efficient. 

Waaree Energies Ltd. is a leading provider of EPC services, project development, solar rooftop solutions, solar water pumps, and independent power generation in India. Our plants in Surat (SEZ, Sachin) and Umbergaon, Gujarat, have India's greatest Solar PV Module manufacturing capacity of 2 GW. 

We provide high-quality, cost-effective, sustainable energy solutions across all markets, lowering carbon emissions and paving the road for sustainable energy, therefore improving the quality of present and future humankind.

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