Agrophotovoltaics is a term that defines the combination of Solar Panel Installations in the crop lands such that the solar energy can be shared by Solar Panels and the Crops. It involves co-developing the same area of land for both the solar Photovoltaic power as well as agriculture.
Adolf Goetzberger and Armin Zastrow had originally conceived this technique in 1981.
As the temperatures around the world are increasing due to climate change, getting water for agriculture would be difficult because the population is rising continuously and so is the food demand and agricultural sector burns huge amounts of fossil fuel such as diesel to pump water around farms.
‘If we don’t reduce the use of water and traditional energy (fossil fuels), our food system won’t be sustainable,’ said Dr Narvarte, who is also the project coordinator of the EU-funded MASLOWATEN consortium, which has developed a solar powered irrigation system that can produce a 30 % reduction in water consumption.
Agrophotovoltaics has many advantages. Generating electricity on farm helps to fulfill the daily electricity requirements of the field, helps to manufacture electric tractors and other farming equipments.
Solar heat collectors can be used to dry crops and warm homes, livestock buildings, and greenhouses. Renewable Energy and Farming, together provide dual income source for farmers over a long run.
Case Study By Fraunhofer ISE:
Many farmers found the solar power a threat to their cultivation land and they did not approve the combination of installing the solar panels on the cultivable land where they raise their crops or livestock.
The Fraunhofer Institute had conducted an experiment for two years, near Lake Constance, Germany.
Observation at the end of First Year:
At the end of the first year, they found the land 160% more productive.
Conclusion at the end of First Year:
As per Stephen Schindele, Project Manager of Agrovoltaics project at Fraunhofer ISE, "The project results from the first year are a complete success: The agrophotovoltaic system proved suitable for the practice and costs as much as a small solar roof system. The crop production is sufficiently high and can be profitably sold on the market."
They found the land 160% more productive, resource efficient, reduces competition for land and additionally opens up a new source of income for farmers.
Observation at the end of Second Year:
As per Stephen Schindele, "At the end of the second year, they found the land 186% more productive".
In 2018, where all over the globe, the farmers faced the problem of blazing heat and high temperatures, whereas, the Fraunhofer's Lake Constance experiment succeded and gave the impactful and innovative way of modern farming.
The following graph shows the growth of solar floating installations globally from the beginning.
Data taken from “Where Sun Meets Water: Floating Solar Market Report,” World Bank Group and SERIS, Singapore, 2018.
Where does the future of "Integrated Photovoltaics" lie ?
With the project “SHRIMPS” (Solar-Aquaculture Habitats as Resource-Efficient and Integrated Multilayer Production Systems), the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE and its partners wanted to demonstrate that dual land use for aquaculture and photovoltaics can solve these systemic problems. Pilot plants are being installed and tested along the Mekong’s upper basin and in the Mekong Delta.
Sketch of the planned shrimp photovoltaic greenhouse in Bac Lieu.
Planned pangasius photovoltaic plant including self-sufficient energy supply in An Giang.
Floating Photovoltaics (FPV) is the term for PV power plants that consist of modules mounted on buoyant elements that float on standing water bodies such as pit lakes or reservoirs or on the sea. FPV has shown very dynamic growth in recent years, with systems for more than 1.1 GW power installed by the middle of 2018.
Building Integrated Photovoltaics
Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) refers to building components which fulfil classic functions such as thermal insulation, protection against wind and weather or also architectural functions, in addition to generating electricity. Due to their multifunctionality, these active building components can achieve a better economic and ecological balance over their lifetime than conventional building elements.
Vehicle Integrated Photovoltaics
Vehicle-integrated Photovoltaics (VIPV) designates the mechanical, electrical and design-technical integration of photovoltaic modules into vehicles.
Road-integrated photovoltaics (RIPV) encompasses the incorporation of solar modules into and near land areas reserved for transportation. This can be directly into the surfaces of roads, footpaths or public squares, but also between railway tracks or associated areas such as noise barriers or highway verges.
Urban Photovoltaics (UPV) uses sealed areas in cities, towns and villages to generate electricity from renewable sources and to create attractive urban landscapes. Examples include large parking lots, public squares or sport and recreation areas, where photovoltaics is installed in combination with shading elements, light sources, charging infrastructure for electromobility or rain shelters. This adds value to the spaces for users and allows them to experience the energy transformation positively. A further example is the combination of photovoltaics with lighting, shading and rain protection in a central omnibus station or over the parking areas of trade exhibition grounds. Along the roadside, PV systems can serve as advertising boards or be integrated with WiFi, 5G mobile network or monitoring functions.