Current status of agrivoltaic systems and their benefits to energy, food, environment, economy, and society
The rate of solar power generation is increasing globally at a significant increase in the net electricity demand, leading to competition for agricultural lands and forest invasion. Agrivoltaic systems, which integrate photovoltaic (PV) systems with crop production, are potential solutions to this situation. Currently, there are two types of agrivoltaic systems: 1) systems involving agricultural activities on available land in pre-existing PV facilities, and 2) systems intentionally designed and installed for the co-production of agricultural crops and PV power. Agrivoltaic systems can boost electricity generation efficiency and capacity, as well as the land equivalent ratio. They also generate revenue for farmers and entrepreneurs through the sale of electricity and crops. Therefore, these systems have the potential to sustain energy, food, the environment, the economy, and society. Despite the numerous advantages of both types of agrivoltaic systems, few studies on utilizing the available land area under existing ground-mounted PV systems for agricultural crop production have been conducted. Moreover, with several conventional solar power plant projects currently underway around the world, an expanding trend is anticipated. As a result, this article offers practical advice for agrivoltaic systems on how to implement an agricultural area under ground-mounted PV power systems without agricultural pre-plans. These systems are useful for policymaking and optimizing land use efficiency in terms of energy production, food supply, environmental impact, local economy, and sustainable societies.