Decomposition models of solar irradiance estimate the magnitude of diffuse horizontal irradiance from global horizontal irradiance. These two radiation components are well-known to be essential for the prediction of solar photovoltaic systems performance. In open-field agrivoltaic systems, that is the dual use of land for both agricultural activities and solar power conversion, cultivated crops receive an unequal amount of direct, diffuse and reflected photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) depending on the area they are growing due to the non-homogenously shadings caused by the solar panels installed (above the crops or vertically mounted). It is known that PAR is more efficient for canopy photosynthesis under conditions of diffuse PAR than direct PAR per unit of total PAR. For this reason, it is fundamental to estimate the diffuse PAR component in agrivoltaic systems studies to properly predict the crop yield.
Solar electricity from solar parks in rural areas are cost effective and can be deployed fast therefore play an important role in the energy transition. The optimal design of a solar park is largely affected by income scheme, electricity transport capacity, and land lease costs. Important design parameters for utility-scale solar parks that may affect landscape, biodiversity, and soil quality are ground coverage ratio, size, and tilt of the PV tables. Particularly, low tilt PV at high coverage reduces the amount of sunlight on the ground strongly and leads to deterioration of the soil quality over the typical 25-year lifetime. In contrast, vertical PV or an agri-PV designed fairly high above the ground leads to more and homogeneous ground irradiance; these designs are favored for pastures and croplands. In general, the amount and distribution of ground irradiance and precipitation will strongly affect which crops can grow below and between the PV tables and whether this supports the associated food chain. As agrivoltaics is the direct competition between photosynthesis and photovoltaics. Understanding when, where and how much light reaches the ground is key to relate the agri-PV solar park design to the expected agricultural and electricity yields. We have shown that by increasing the minimum height of the system, decreasing the size of the PV tables and decreasing the coverage ratio, the ground irradiance increases, in particular around the gaps between the tables. The most direct way of increasing the lowest irradiance in a solar park design is to use semi-transparent PV panels, such as the commercially available bifacial glass-glass modules. In conclusion: we have shown that we can achieve similar ground irradiance levels in an east- and west-facing design with 77% ground coverage ratio as is achieved by a south-facing design at 53% coverage.
This study assessed the performance of a blind-type shading regulator that can automatically rotate semi-transparent photovoltaic blades installed on the greenhouse roof in response to sunlight variation.
This paper describes results of crop outputs for certain vegetables with differing gap spaces between rows to determine optimal crop production. It addresses nutrient levels, soil water content, and plant temperature below the panels.
To date, the impacts of agriphotovoltaic (APV) condition on the production yield of crop have been studied; however, the effect of APV production on the sensorial quality and consumer acceptability of the produce remains unexplored. Therefore, to address this knowledge gap, we cultivated “Winter Storm” cabbage under solar panels and in open field in 2020. The weight and diameter reduction rate of fresh cabbage grown under APV condition compared to open field conditions were 9.7% and 1.2%, respectively. The levels of glucosinolates and their hydrolysis products were not significantly different in the fresh cabbage between the two conditions. The amount of volatile organic compounds, which may affect the perception of smell, were significantly higher in the cabbage juice prepared from the ones grown in open-field conditions than in the juice prepared from cabbages grown under APV conditions. However, untrained subjects could not distinguish the difference in the quality of the 2 sets of cabbage juices in the triangle test. Regardless of the distinguishing features of color, aroma, and taste, the subjects did not have any preference between the two different cabbage juices.
Sensorial Quality of Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
and Its High-Temperature-Extracted Juice
The growing need for clean energy and food production are favoring the use of underused spaces, such as rooftops. This study aims to demonstrate the compatibility of the use of rooftops both for the production of photovoltaic energy and for the production of food, despite the fact that both compete for the same resource, sunlight (rooftop agrivoltaic). The results show that in these environmental conditions, the cultivation of plants that demand little sunlight, such as lettuce, is compatible with the shading produced by photovoltaic panels.
This study, performed by a research group that includes AgriSolar Clearinghouse partners Greg-Barron Gafford and Jordan Macknick, describes an integrative approach for the investigation of the co-location of solar photovoltaics and crops, and the potential for co-located agrivoltaic crops in drylands as a solution for the food-energy-water nexus impacts from climate change.
The research focused on three common agricultural species that represent different adaptive niches for dryland environments: chiltepin pepper, jalapeño, and cherry tomato. The researchers created an agrivoltaic system by planting these species under a PV array—3.3m off the ground at the lowest end and at a tilt of 32°—to capture the physical and biological impacts of this approach. Throughout the average three-month summer growing season, researchers monitored incoming light levels, air temperature and relative humidity continuously using sensors mounted 2.5m above the soil surface, and soil surface temperature and moisture at 5-cm depth. Both the traditional planting area (control) and agrivoltaic system received equal irrigation rates, with two irrigation scenarios—daily irrigation and irrigation every 2ays.
The researchers found that shading from the PV panels can provide multiple additive and synergistic benefits, including reduced plant drought stress, greater food production and reduced PV panel heat stress. The agrivoltaic system conditions impacted every aspect of plant activity, though results and significance varied by species. The total fruit production was twice as great under the PV panels of the agrivoltaic system than in the traditional growing environment
Cumulative CO2 uptake was 65% greater in the agrivoltaic installation than in the traditional growing area. Water use efficiency was also 65% greater, indicating that water loss to transpiration was equal between the treatment areas. The increased productivity in the agrivoltaic system is probably due to an alleviation of multiple stress interactions from heat and atmospheric drought.
Because PV panels are sensitive to temperature, the cooling of panels below daytime temperatures of 30 °C positively impacts their efficiency. In this study, researchers found that the PV panels in a traditional ground-mounted array were significantly warmer during the day and experienced greater within-day variation than those over an agrivoltaic understory. Researchers attribute these lower daytime temperatures in the PV panels in the agrivoltaic system to a greater balance of latent heat energy exchange from plant transpiration relative to sensible heat exchange from radiation from bare soil. Across the core growing season, PV panels in an agrivoltaic system were ~8.9+0.2 °C cooler in daylight hours. This reduction in temperature can lead to an increase in PV system performance. Using the system advisor model (SAM) for a traditional and a colocation PV system in Tucson, AZ, researchers calculated that impact from temperature reductions from the agrivoltaic system would lead to a 3% increase in generation over summer months and a 1% increase in generation annually.
These results show the additive benefits of agrivoltaics, to both crop production and energy production, as well as the impacts to ecosystem services such as local climate regulation, water conservation, and drought resiliency.