Solar is taking rural areas by storm! Many farmers are capitalizing on their land by installing large arrays to handle their utility bills. By utilizing space otherwise unused, they are able to truly use all of their land to their advantage. But what about utilizing land for both solar panels and for agriculture? Agrivoltaics is the co-location of solar energy installations and agriculture beneath or between rows of panels. This up and coming area of research in the photovoltaic world has huge potential for meeting our green energy goals.
Agrivoltaics could be a large part of the solution to our climate change conundrum. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that solar could supply as much as 40% of the U.S.'s electricity by 2035. That level of solar development could require 5.7 million acres of land. Agrivoltaics has the potential to help farmers adapt to climate change and to improve crop yield and crop resistance in extreme weather. Research in Arizona found that farming under panels can decrease evaporation of the soil and reduce irrigation requirements.
The Department of Energy is in the process of researching how agrivoltaics can impact agriculture and energy production. Learn more about agrivoltaics here.