Agrovoltaics: A Synergy of Food and Energy

“The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety”

There are many plants that prefer to grow in shady conditions rather than in hot conditions. Most berries flourish in areas where it receives moderate sunlight. Too much exposure to the sun evaporates moisture and subsequently reduces its yield.

In the energy sector, we have solar panels generating energy from the sun’s rays. It is the light from the panels which unlock electrons and generate electricity and not heat. Consequently, the efficiency of solar panels depends upon the temperature of the panels. High temperatures lead to lower efficiencies. Sources say that most of the solar panels operate at its maximum efficiency when it operates around 25°C.

Agrovoltaics: A better love story than twilight.

BayWa r.e. and its partner GroenLeven have come up with a technology which integrates both these concepts. By doing so, they have been able to reduce the limitations of both processes considerably. As a result, they have boosted the revenue of farmers as much as thrice the previous income. This project, AgriPV, is working on a 2.67 MW solar plant on a 3.2-hectare raspberry field.

Food, water, and energy at its best.

Willem De Vries, project manager for AgriPV at GroenLeven

Willem De Vries, Project Manager for AgriPV

Willem De Vries, project manager for AgriPV at GroenLeven, has developed a special solar cell for this purpose. His team has made a special monocrystalline solar panel.

“The solar panels, therefore, provide protection for the plants, while at the same time allowing sufficient light to pass through.”

-DeVries

Agrovoltaics can do more than what solar panels provide

Firstly, this panel provides sufficient transparency so that the right amount of light can enter through the panels to the crops. Secondly, it consists of thick glass layers that could withstand any sort of harsh weather. 

On one side, the panel allows just enough light for the best yield of plants. On the other side, the plants transpire their moisture. Following its evaporation, the moisture cools the solar panels thereby maintaining the temperature of solar panels at desirable levels. Therefore, it increases the productivity of solar panels as well.

In addition, passive cooling by solar panels at night keeps the temperature of crops more or less stable throughout the night as it is during the day. This uniform environment facilitates far better yields of crops.

Agrovoltaics of AgriPV project

“Happiness is both in kindness and mutual help.”

BayWa r.e. has received the European Distribution Partner of the Year award from REC. Also, it has received the National Energy Globe Award in Zambia and many other awards.

 In addition BayWA r.e. presents its own awards known as BayWA Smart Farming Challenge.

Creative cooperation is the way ahead

Ideas like these help to unify the advancements in different sectors and ultimately benefit the end-users. As more and more technologies develop, it is very important to integrate them so that we can have all of them supporting each other. Just like how families live in peace and harmony, technologies can deliver their best by entrusting each other.