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Techno Economic Modeling for Agrivoltaics: Can Agrivoltaics be more profitable than Ground mounted PV?

Agrivoltaics is a dual land-use approach to collocate solar energy generation with agriculture for preserving the terrestrial ecosystem and enabling food-energy-water synergies. Here, we present a systematic approach to model the economic performance of agrivoltaics relative to standalone ground-mounted PV and explore how the module design configuration can affect the dual food-energy economic performance. A remarkably simple criterion for economic feasibility is quantified that relates the land preservation cost to dual food-energy profit. We explore case studies including both high and low value crops under fixed tilt bifacial modules oriented either along the conventional North/South facings or vertical East/West facings. For each module configuration, the array density is varied to explore an economically feasible design space relative to ground-mounted PV for a range of module to land cost ratio (๐‘ด๐‘ณ) โ€“ a location-specific indicator relating the module technology (hardware and installation) costs to the soft (land acquisition, tax, overheads, etc.) costs. To offset a typically higher agrivoltaic module cost needed to preserve the cropland, both East/West and North/South orientated modules favor high value crops, reduced (<60%) module density, and higher ๐‘ด๐‘ณ (>๐Ÿ๐Ÿ“). In contrast, higher module density and an increased feed-in-tariff (๐‘ญ๐‘ฐ๐‘ป) relative to ground-mounted PV are desirable at lower ๐‘ด๐‘ณ. The economic trends vary sharply for ๐‘ด๐‘ณ< 10 but tend to saturate for ๐‘ด๐‘ณ> 20. For low value crops, ~15% additional ๐‘ญ๐‘ฐ๐‘ป can enable economic equivalence to ๐‘ฎ๐‘ด๐‘ท๐‘ฝ at standard module density. Researchers have presented a techno-economic modeling framework to assess and predict the economic performance of ๐ด๐‘‰ systems relative to the standard ground mounted ๐‘ƒ๐‘‰. The effects of module design configurations including array density and orientation, income from crop, technology specific and land related costs, and ๐น๐ผ๐‘‡ are explored. To support cropland preservation, ๐ด๐‘‰ typically has a higher module technology cost as compared to standard ๐‘ƒ๐‘‰ primarily due to elevated mounting and customized foundations that can potentially make it economically non-attractive for ๐‘ƒ๐‘‰ investors. They show that it is possible to design an economically attractive ๐ด๐‘‰ system by selecting suitable crops and module configuration for the given land costs and ๐น๐ผ๐‘‡.