Researchers Explore Viability of Growing Crops Underneath Solar Panels

A new biotechnological revolution dawns upon society. Harvesting crops may be about so much more than just doing that in the near future. A new study shows it is, in theory, possible to harvest sunshine with regular crops. This will allow farmers to make full use of scarce land and result in additional income. A very interesting approach, albeit the feasibility of this venture has yet to be determined.

Agrovoltaics can Revamp Farming Forever

It is always positive to take note of new developments in the agricultural industry. As harvesting crops becomes more important to keep the world’s population fed, new use cases and solutions will need to be explored. Rather than turning to a lab-based approach, researchers are now trying their hand at something entirely different. Agrovoltaics, as this trend is known as, will combine the best of harvesting crops with clean energy production.

To put this in perspective, agrovoltaics can solve two major problems in one go. On the one hand, solutions need to be found to increase the global production of food and produce. That is easier said than done, as there is only so much land available. Furthermore, farmers are dependent on nature’s conditions, which tend to shift every so often. With the world’s population increasing further, the demand for food will only increase exponentially.

The second problem comes in the form of finding alternative energy sources. Renewable and clean energy sources are all of the rage as of right now. To address both issues, scientists are experimenting with growing crops underneath photovoltaic panels. In doing so, they hope to not only improve overall food production under dry circumstances, but also to save water. This can very well become the new norm of growing crops in hot regions over the next few years.

Another unexpected benefit of this approach is the “natural cooling effort” crops can have on the solar panels. Ever time the temperature surpasses a certain threshold, solar panels become far less efficient. By growing crops beneath them, the overall temperature is brought down and seemingly remains with the optimal operational range. Although more research is needed to fully test this theory, initial tests have shown pretty appealing results already.

While most of these efforts still being isolated events, it is evident there is still a long way to go. It is expected agrovoltaic efforts currently provide roughly two gigawatts of power. As significant as that figure may seem, it is not necessarily making the biggest impact just yet. However, it would appear agrovoltaic efforts are getting a lot more recognition in Asia, Europe, and the US. Further focus on these projects can change the farming industry on a fundamental level.

It is efforts like these which show how technological innovation and agriculture can come together in a meaningful manner. Further research is needed to ensure this is a feasible approach. The prospect of saving water, growing more food, and putting a bigger focus on renewable energy seems like a triple win in its own right. It can also provide farmers with additional income, which is always too good to pass up on. A very remarkable breakthrough, assuming it proves to be viable and successful in the long run.