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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 (𝑴𝑳) – 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 𝑴𝑳 (>𝟐𝟓). In contrast, higher module density and an increased feed-in-tariff (𝑭𝑰𝑻) relative to ground-mounted PV are desirable at lower 𝑴𝑳. The economic trends vary sharply for 𝑴𝑳< 10 but tend to saturate for 𝑴𝑳> 20. For low value crops, ~15% additional 𝑭𝑰𝑻 can enable economic equivalence to ground-mounted PV at standard module density. Researchers have presented a techno-economic modeling framework to assess and predict the economic performance of 𝐴𝑉 systems relative to the standard ground mounted 𝑃𝑉. The effects of module design configurations including array density and orientation, income from crop, technology specific and land related costs, and 𝐹𝐼𝑇 are explored. To support cropland preservation, 𝐴𝑉 typically has a higher module technology cost as compared to standard 𝑃𝑉 primarily due to elevated mounting and customized foundations that can potentially make it economically non-attractive for 𝑃𝑉 investors. They show that it is possible to design an economically attractive 𝐴𝑉 system by selecting suitable crops and module configuration for the given land costs and 𝐹𝐼𝑇.

Techno Economic Modeling for Agrivoltaics