Regenerative Agriculture & Solar Panels: Climate Change’s Sibling Rivalry
💡 Agrivoltaics, often called ‘dual solar’ or ‘solar sharing’, combines solar panels with agricultural land. Solar panels are raised 7-10ft above the ground with crops growing beneath in their shade, a healthy relief from an entire day’s direct exposure to the sun.
📌 There are several factors favorable for agrivoltaics:
▶ Excessive sun exposure doesn’t increase plant growth, it only dehydrates the plants, requiring more watering to quench their thrist. Under a solar panel, crops are cooled in the summer and warmed in the winter while surplus sunlight can be harnessed into energy needed to operate the farm.
▶ Solar panels are less effective when overheated; crops placed beneath them absorb sunlight and heat to help regulate a cooler temperature for the panels.
▶ Land prices for farmers are up, but costs for solar panels are becoming more affordable.
▶ Low-slung animals, such as sheep, can graze between the panels to keep the grass low in areas inaccessbile to mowers.
🎯 Agrivoltaics is early in its development; much research and technology is still needed to address certain issues such as panels needing adjustable mobility to allow enough sunlight to reach the crops and rainfall to adequately wet the soil. The greatest barrier currently for small scale farmers is cost, for large scale farms, its designating enough land to be economically viable.
📷 Image: Sheep ‘mowing’ the lawn around and beneath solar panels.