Agrivoltaics is a Brilliant Solution

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

Agrivoltaics combines agriculture with solar energy in a way that augments the performance of both.

Jack’s Solar Garden in Boulder, Colorado, is an excellent example of where and how this symbiotic relationship works. It's one of a dozen such projects in the US - some commercial and some only for research.

On Jack's Farm they erected 3,200 panels over one of their large paddocks. They selected sophisticated trackers to follow the sun across the sky, and mounted them according to strategically-measured heights and spacing to allow enough sun to reach the crops below. For each row mounted 8-feet off the ground, providing enough room to drive a tractor under, two were mounted at 6-feet.

The electricity generates enough to power 300 homes and underneath the solar panels there are tomatoes, turnips, carrots, squash, beets, lettuce, kale, chard, and peppers.

Here's the clever bit: Up above, the solar panels were found to be kept 16°F cooler by evaporation from the crops below, enough to increase their energy generation by 2 percent. Meanwhile, underneath, the crops tested were 100 percent to 300 percent more productive depending on the species, and the shade provided by the solar panels reduced irrigation-water use by 15 percent, and reduced water consumption by a whopping 157 percent. The third positive ingredient is that the crops are also protected from intense rain or hail from the overhead panels.

We can all expect to see such set ups in fields near us soon.