This article discusses solar panel efficiency as a function of the location’s microclimate within which it is immersed. Researchers present a model for solar panel efficiency that incorporates the influence of the panel’s microclimate, derived from first principles and validated with field observations. The model proves that PV panel efficiency is influenced by insolation, air temperature, wind speed, and relative humidity. The researchers then classified solar power production potential based on local land cover classification and found that croplands have the greatest median solar potential. Agrivoltaic systems may alleviate land competition or other spatial constraints for solar power development, creating a significant opportunity for future energy sustainability.
Realizing that less effort has been made to reconcile solar development with biodiversity conservation, researchers in this article provide a framework that uses a unique land-sharing approach and is based on five pillars that cover key aspects of solar park planning and maintenance: (1) eco-smart siting in the landscape, which considers ecological interactions with the landscape matrix and trade-offs between multiple small vs. fewer large solar parks; (2) eco-smart park layout to address the ecological aspects of the spatial configuration of solar park infrastructure; (3) creation of diverse, novel grassland ecosystems with high ecosystem service provisioning capacity using a trait-based ecosystem design approach; (4) management of the novel ecosystem throughout the lifespan of the solar parks; and (5) ensuring stakeholder engagement to integrate this in a viable business model with high community acceptance.
In this study, researchers used field measurements and a plant hydraulic model to quantify carbon-water cycling in a semi-arid C3 perennial grassland growing beneath a single-axis tracking solar array in Colorado, USA. Although the agrivoltaic array reduced light availability by 38%, net photosynthesis and aboveground net primary productivity were reduced by only 6–7% while evapotranspiration decreased by 1.3%. The minimal changes in carbon-water cycling occurred largely because plant photosynthetic traits underneath the panels changed to take advantage of the dynamic shading environment. The results indicate that agrivoltaic systems can serve as a scalable way to expand solar energy production while maintaining ecosystem function in managed grasslands, especially in climates where water is more limiting than light.
The objective of this thesis work is to evaluate the introduction of agrivoltaics in Italy through the study of the effect of the presence of photovoltaic panels on the final yield of potatoes in Ferrara, Italy. The findings of this preliminary study indicate that agrivoltaic systems should be designed while taking into account the need to ensure a minimum level of incident radiation at least in the first two months of cultivation, to avoid an inter-row production drop. Furthermore, photovoltaic panels are not responsible for the absolute low yield in years with unfavorable weather conditions, such as cold years; on the contrary, they may mitigate the damages to the crop by creating an underneath microclimate and the resulting higher temperature, which however is a hypothesis to be verified in more detail in future studies.
In this study, researchers monitored the microclimate, soil moisture, panel temperature, electricity generation and soil properties at a utility-scale solar facility in a continental climate with different site management practices. The vegetated solar areas had significantly higher soil moisture, carbon, and other nutrients compared to bare solar areas. However, the benefits of vegetation cooling effects on electricity generation are rather site-specific and depend on the background climate and soil properties.
In this article, researchers propose 19 directly measurable indicators associated with 16 ecosystem services within three major stocks of natural capital (biodiversity, soil and water) that are most likely to be impacted by the development of solar parks.
In this article, researchers evaluated seasonal patterns of soil moisture (SM) and diurnal variation in incident sunlight (photosynthetic photon flux density [PPFD]) in a single-axis-tracking agrivoltaic system established in a formerly managed semiarid C3 grassland in Colorado. Their goals were to (1) quantify dynamic patterns of PPFD and SM within a 1.2 MW photovoltaic array in a perennial grassland, and (2) determine how aboveground net primary production (ANPP) and photosynthetic parameters responded to the resource patterns created by the photovoltaic array. Investigators found relatively weak relationships between SM and ANPP despite significant spatial variability in both. Further, there was little evidence that light-saturated photosynthesis and quantum yield of CO2 assimilation differed for plants growing directly beneath (lowest PPFD) versus between (highest PPFD) PV panels. Overall, the AV system established in this semiarid managed grassland did not alter patterns of ANPP in ways predictable from past studies of controls of ANPP in open grasslands.