Trials Show No Negative Impact of Agrivoltaics on Crop Yield: Report

Highlights :

  • The report said that the technology did not negatively impact crop production; in some cases, it even increased crop yields.

A latest report from think-tanks working in the renewable energy sector claimed that better-designed pilot projects had shown that there was no negative impact on the growth of crops grown under agrivoltaics. The new paper was jointly produced by Canada-based International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Consumer Unity and Trust Society International (CUTS) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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Agrivoltaics refers to the simultaneous use of land for agriculture and photovoltaic (PV) power generation. The research report tried to examine the development of the technology through major pilot projects to study the challenges and opportunities for the commercialization of the technology in India. 

The report added that the technology did not negatively impact crop production; in some cases, it even increased crop yields. The report noted that developers tested foremost pilots on the topic with a limited variety of crops and agricultural settings. 

“The experience of pilot implementers suggests the technical feasibility of agrivoltaics with no change (or even an increase) in the yield of some crops like leafy vegetables, millet, and medicinal plants under shading conditions. However, better-designed pilots with rich data collection on the crop microenvironment are required before these results can be generalized,” the report said. 

It also stated that crop choices trialed in these pilot projects were often limited, and mainstream crops like paddy and wheat must be tried successfully. 

“Established value chains and price support mechanisms for these crops make it challenging to encourage farmers to shift to crops that are most suitable for agrivoltaics,” the report said. 

The researchers also said that the commercialization of agrivoltaics could be done by increasing its attractiveness through technological innovations and testing business models most viable in the Indian context. 

The report also suggested that some of the technological interventions which often increase solar energy productivity in routine solar projects could also be deployed in agrivoltaics to increase the commercial viability of such projects. 

The report urged the government to consider their role in some more pilot projects. “Technological innovations like bifacial panels and sun tracking have shown some promising results in agrivoltaics and can be encouraged through state-sponsored pilots,” the report said. 

On the other hand, the report also said that agrivoltaic projects in arid, semi-arid, and peri-urban regions were likely to be most suited. The report also batted for land-use reforms and tax regulations to support the technology. 

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