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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Photo voltaic Energy & Farming: A Win–Win–Win–Win

Photo voltaic vitality is vital to virtually all types of farming. As we be taught as children, sunshine is a vital ingredient to plant development. However what concerning the mixture of solar energy — photo voltaic PV energy — and farming? For essentially the most half, this combo has at all times tickled folks’s curiosity and excited readers right here on CleanTechnica. It simply sounds good, doesn’t it? Solar energy and farming ought to go collectively, proper? However is it logical? Are the crops and the photo voltaic panels not going to compete for sunshine? Effectively, as you’ll be able to see from the title above, the solutions I’ve discovered point out that solar energy and agriculture are certainly a match made in heaven. Let’s get into the small print.

I not too long ago spoke with Ben Frank, Senior Director of Nationwide Gross sales—Industrial & Industrial at SolarEdge*, and Lewis Butler, Nationwide C&I Gross sales Supervisor at GRNE, about this matter. You may hearken to the complete podcast dialogue by way of Spotify under, or you’ll be able to first learn a few of the highlights of that dialog additional down under.

Agrivoltaics — What It Is And Why It’s Good

SolarEdge’s Ben Frank summarizes that after we focus on agrivoltaics (agri-PV), “what we’re speaking about is an elevated photo voltaic system that’s put in on farmland the place there can be crops cultivated beneath the photo voltaic system in addition to, you realize, probably livestock grazing beneath.” Different phrases for this are “co-locating or dual-use farming,” he provides. “When completed appropriately, it will probably truly yield some fairly spectacular outcomes — twofold. Primary, enhancing yield of crops, additionally being higher circumstances for grazing. And then you definately even have electrical energy that’s being generated. So, it helps the farm neighborhood improve the productiveness of their farm, or saving water, and on the similar time having the ability to have one other supply of revenue by producing electrical energy.”

He additionally famous that once you do a comparability between a conventional ground-mount set up and these elevated agrivoltaics photo voltaic panels, the photo voltaic panels within the latter case function about 48°F cooler! Moreover, pores and skin temperatures on the farmworkers averaged 20°F cooler when working beneath the panels.

So, we’ve bought a handful of advantages to focus on right here:

  1. Agriculture yields (crops or grazing) enhance with agrivoltaics.
  2. Water utilization may be decreased with agrivoltaics.
  3. The cooler circumstances make the photo voltaic PV panels extra environment friendly.
  4. The cooler temperatures additionally assist making working circumstances higher for the farmworkers.
  5. Farmers achieve one other supply of revenue.
  6. Naturally, all of this helps with combating international heating and air pollution, as properly.

Total, as Lewis Butler provides, it’s all simply very cool.

Varied particular particulars and anecdotes are famous by Frank and Butler on the podcast.

Does The Inflation Discount Act (IRA) Increase Agrivoltaics?

In brief, sure.

“The IRA is certainly an enormous — you realize, it from a business viewpoint — it’s including numerous, you realize, financial viability and incentives to business photo voltaic normally, not any completely different for agri-PV,” Ben Frank famous. “I feel a few of the readability on a few of the specifics of how a lot it should add continues to be just a little bit in query, and definitely on the state stage, however yeah, we count on there to be a fairly good boon to business photo voltaic normally and to agri-PV on account of IRA.”

“I might add that the IRA undoubtedly boosted that tax credit score, however it additionally offered much more funding for the USDA REAP grant, which is primarily focused at rural communities, and farmers normally, so we’re seeing lots of people making use of for these grants now,” Lewis Butler provides. “So, I feel there’s going to be some states and utilities and areas of the nation the place historically you wouldn’t have thought a photo voltaic mission was going to go in that these markets are going to now begin opening up.”

Afterward within the podcast, Butler famous a number of main monetary incentives obtainable for agrivoltaic tasks. There’s the 30% federal funding tax credit score (ITC). There’s additionally the aforementioned REAP grant from the USDA, which he signifies “can cowl as much as 40% of mission price as much as one million {dollars}.” That’s interesting, or as Butler notes in an understated method, “That’s a fairly good incentive with that 30% tax credit score.” As well as, the USDA gives a mortgage product which “has a fairly prolonged time period on it as properly that you just won’t historically discover at an area lender, in order that long run may also help decrease these funds.” That each one appears like a really compelling package deal of choices to encourage farmers to go photo voltaic with agrivoltaics ASAP. Why would somebody not?

We additionally focus on selecting the best expertise for an agri-PV set up, elements to contemplate, and technological progress on this discipline (no pun supposed). How do you maximize each solar energy manufacturing and crop manufacturing? How do you guarantee they’re carried out securely? Pay attention in for all these particulars.

*This text was sponsored by SolarEdge.


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Photo voltaic PV & Farming — Tendencies In Agrivoltaics

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