1. Agriculture World

Agrivoltaics: A Smart Farming Strategy to Boost Farmers’ Income

The amount of solar energy that is available in a single year exceeds the total energy production of all the nation's fossil fuel energy sources, and there are nearly 300 clear and sunny days per year.

Shruti Kandwal
Agrivoltaics creates a cost-efficient, successful, and creative solution to land constraints by combining agricultural and renewable energy synergies.
Agrivoltaics creates a cost-efficient, successful, and creative solution to land constraints by combining agricultural and renewable energy synergies.

India has shown its desire to increase the capacity of non-fossil electricity to 500 GW by 2030, with renewable energy making up 50% of all energy requirements. The next step is India's Net Zero aim, which is a significant advancement in the worldwide fight against climate change.

In order to achieve this goal, India is expanding its solar energy sector. The amount of solar energy that is available in a single year exceeds the total energy production of all the nation's fossil fuel energy sources, and there are nearly 300 clear and sunny days per year. Though, the vast amount of land required for solar energy production is one of its primary drawbacks. The land area needed for a 1 MW SPV plant using crystalline silicon technology is roughly 100,000 square feet.

One potential solution to this problem is "Agrovoltaics" or "Agrivoltaic."

What is Agrivoltaics?

Agrivoltaics is the idea of integrating solar photovoltaics and land development for agriculture. In short, it makes it possible for two important sectors to coexist. Agrivoltaics have been developed in many different forms all over the world, and new approaches are constantly emerging that will be essential to India's energy and climate transition.

In fact, the IEEFA (Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis) found in a 2021 study that agrivoltaics has the potential to grow into a significant sector provided the right regulatory frameworks are in place.

Agrivoltaics creates a cost-efficient, successful, and creative solution to land constraints by combining agricultural and renewable energy synergies. Furthermore, they support biodiversity preservation and sustainable rural development.

The development of a series of measures to take the agricultural transition to a low carbon into account is one of the alliance's main objectives. For instance, if separate land is utilized, land usage efficiency is 100% for solar energy or 100% for crops. Combining different land uses, however, can increase land use efficiency by up to 186%.

Benefits of Agrivoltaics

Increased Soil Moisture

In addition to helping in temperature control, solar panels' shade also helps to reduce water evaporation by up to 29%. As a result, it helps in increasing soil moisture, enabling farmers to keep crops at the ideal water level.

Rainwater Harvesting System

Agrovoltaics with a rainwater collection system combined is a new thought.  Farmers can collect rainwater from PV arrays and store it in storage tanks for later use in PV cleaning and irrigation.   Studies show that it enables farmers to capture up to 80% of the rainwater that falls on the panels, offering a workable solution for the water shortage brought on by climate change.

Increased Crop Production & Efficiency

Once plants reach their light saturation point, excessive light is no longer beneficial. Instead, it can lead to a rise in water usage and possibly limit their growth. Crops planted under solar panels are not only protected from high temperatures but their yield is also increased by up to 10%. Solar panels can also be adjusted to get the ideal amount of sunlight.

Empowering Rural India with Agrivoltaic Systems

Agrovoltaics allows farmers who already cultivate crops on their property to continue doing so even when solar panels are erected above a particular height.

The plan makes sure there is enough local solar electricity to power farm pump sets and rural load centers. The proximity of these power plants to electrical substations or agricultural loads would reduce transmission losses for discoms and STUs. Additionally, it will help discoms reach their RPO targets.

Solar pumps also give farmers a steady irrigation space and help them save money on petrol for running diesel pumps. Also, it stops harmful pollutants from occurring when the diesel pump is in action.

Overall, India’s agriculture industry could benefit greatly from combining food production with solar energy.

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