Whether you are looking to start a business or improve your crop yields, agrivoltaics (also called dual-use solar) is a great option. It reduces the emission of polluting gases and helps solve climactic issues.
Improves crop yields
Agricultural productivity and food availability is being threatened by changing climate conditions, increasing energy costs, and shifting government subsidies. The global food market is being disrupted by international conflicts and decreasing revenues. Agrivoltaics are emerging as a way to reduce these challenges by combining the production of both food and electricity on one piece of land.
The use of agrivoltaic systems is growing in Asia and Europe as a means of producing clean energy and reducing competition for agricultural land. Agrivoltaics can increase yields of high-value crops, such as asparagus, hops, and soft fruits. They also reduce the demand for water, resulting in higher crop quality and anthocyanins.
Agrivoltaics are a relatively new form of solar energy. They integrate PV modules into a system above crop plants, allowing farmers to harvest both food and renewable energy on one piece of land. These systems are raised several meters above the soil. Currently, the technology is limited to isolated experimental studies on a few crops in a few regions. However, more research is needed to develop the technology in order to optimize its use and achieve comprehensive economic benefits.
In the United States, farmers are increasingly interested in agrivoltaics, but the technology has not been fully evaluated. In addition, the upfront cost of installing an agrivoltaic system is a large obstacle for investors. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2017 features over $20 billion in investment in clean energy, and it is expected that more grants will be made available for agrivoltaic projects.
Agrivoltaics are not yet fully optimized for agricultural applications, but they can be an effective strategy to increase farm profitability and decrease competition for agricultural land. The USDA has funded agrivoltaic projects through its Sustainable Agriculture Systems program, and research into agrivoltaics will continue. In the future, researchers will study the effects of agrivoltaics on different types of crops and in different climate scenarios. This will ensure that agrivoltaics are effective in areas with limited agricultural cropland.
Agrivoltaics are most beneficial in hot, dry climates where cropland is confined to small areas. However, in less favorable years, the utilization of AV may negatively affect the growth of crops. In a study, Amaducci et al. (2018) found that AV can stabilize the growth of potatoes and winter wheat in non-irrigated systems. They also noted that AV reduced the growth of rice and peppers.
Agrivoltaics can improve crop yields by combining the power of solar panels with the production of food. As a result, the use of agrivoltaics has the potential to change the way we harvest and process crops. It can also reduce evapotranspiration, thereby enhancing water use efficiency. The technology can also provide shade for workers and a way to generate electricity.
In order to maximize the economic benefits of agrivoltaics, a project must be designed to maximize the amount of energy that is generated. Additionally, the technology must be optimized to minimize any negative impacts on crops.
Reduces emission of polluting gases
Taking steps to reduce the emission of polluting gases improves air quality. It is important to address the sources of pollution to avoid premature deaths from respiratory illnesses, such as asthma. Many of these policies focus on the energy and transport sectors, while others target agriculture. There are several technological solutions, such as biofuels, fuel switching, combined heat and power, and energy efficiency. Other laws restrict chemicals that are released into the air.
Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases is a crucial step to address global climate change. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with a climate change impact of about 80 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. It is emitted during incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels. Incomplete combustion occurs in many simple stoves, such as those used to heat homes, as well as in industrial processes. Other pollutants include nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and toxic minerals such as mercury. A carbon price internalizes the costs of carbon pollution for polluters.
Reducing emissions of other air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, will also improve the health of individuals. Outdoor air pollution has been linked to heart disease and respiratory illnesses. Some countries have laws to restrict smog, but this does little to reduce the number of premature deaths from air pollution. There are several ways to address these issues, including implementing air quality standards, limiting the release of chemicals into the air, and improving energy efficiency.
Developing comprehensive strategies to reduce the emissions of the industrial sector is essential to achieving climate goals. The energy sector is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions behind transportation. Using more efficient materials, combining heat and power, and increasing energy efficiency are all effective ways to reduce emissions. A carbon price is one of the easiest and most effective strategies to achieve this goal.
The energy sector is responsible for 23 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the third-largest source of emissions. In addition to direct emissions, the industrial sector produces indirect emissions from electricity consumption. The United States produces about 41 million tons of methane each year, equal to the carbon pollution of all passenger cars. If the United States can cut methane emissions by 70 percent, it would slow the rate of global warming by a full quarter of a degree Celsius. The oil and gas industry is the leading source of methane.
The United States has the opportunity to lead the world in reducing methane emissions. The Obama Administration has initiated regulations to limit methane releases from the oil and gas industry, and President Biden signed a bipartisan bill to reinstate Obama-era rules. If enacted, these rules would cut 41 million tons of methane emissions by 2035.
A recent report from the International Energy Agency estimated that a 75% reduction in methane emissions is achievable. This could help reduce the rate of sea level rise by a half-foot and reduce premature deaths by a few thousand.
Solves climactic issues
Agricultural systems powered by agrivoltaics are becoming an important part of the solution to some of the climatic issues facing our planet. Farmers can grow more food by using less water, and by adding electricity to their crop, they can also earn more revenue. Combined with solar power, agrivoltaics can offer multiple benefits to both agriculture and the environment.
Agrivoltaics have the potential to make the agricultural industry more competitive and to promote agricultural trade, which improves livelihoods for communities. In addition, they can provide carbon sequestration and habitat restoration. Agrivoltaics can help expand the use of solar power, which is necessary to meet growing energy demands. They also can support beneficial insects and restore natural vegetation.
Research into agrivoltaics is gaining momentum worldwide. There are a number of projects in the early stages of testing, and many have shown promising results. But there is still a lot of work to be done before they become widely adopted. The primary challenge is to develop an optimal integrated management model for agrivoltaics. This includes making sure the system is site specific and reflects different agro-ecological zones. Other challenges include developing an appropriate public incentive scheme and attracting commercial interest.
Agrivoltaics are especially useful in areas with frequent droughts and malnutrition. In these settings, the agrivoltaic system can provide a partial shade for crops that protects them from extreme heat and frost. This can help reduce water usage, which in turn boosts the productivity of crops. In addition, agrivoltaics can also create habitat for beneficial insects, which can improve soil health.
The Oregon State University (OSU) research farm has already embraced agrivoltaics. It is also working with other institutions to learn more about this technology. Researchers will hold focus groups with growers to learn more about their experiences. They will also work to construct an economic assessment of the potential of agrivoltaics in fruit orchards.
Another agrivoltaic project is being explored in the Western Slope of Colorado. Fruit orchards are a high-value crop in this area. They thrive in a shaded environment. To ensure that they are productive, farmers need good weather conditions. However, extreme weather events are a new normal because of climate change. In the United States, agrivoltaics can provide partial shade to the crops, which can prevent them from getting frost damage.
The US Department of Agriculture points to the Northeast as a hotbed of agrivoltaics activity. In Massachusetts, a financial incentive is offered to help cover the costs of agrivoltaics. If 1% of the nation’s farmland was converted to agrivoltaics, it could produce enough renewable energy to meet 20% of the country’s needs. This would be a significant contribution to a sustainable long-term food system.
Agrivoltaics also offer other benefits to surrounding communities. For example, Jack’s Solar Garden in Colorado offers educational activities, as well as assistance for low-income households. The garden features a workforce development program and provides support for local artists.