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Reimagining agriculture through the power of solar

When the push for renewable energy meets the growing need for food security, agrivoltaics offers a ground-breaking solution. While the traditional paradigm of photovoltaic (PV) panel installation has historically come at the expense of soil stability, water retention, and biodiversity, this new approach preserves agricultural productivity while simultaneously generating renewable energy.

With a vision of "harvesting the sun twice", agrivoltaics has pioneered a harmonious blend of solar energy generation and agriculture across the same parcel of land. Echoing the aspirations of COP28, it answers the global call for enhanced renewable energy capacities, while concurrently addressing the food demands of expanding populations, even in regions where the conversion of farmlands into solar parks is restricted.

Internationally, the integration of solar panels into farming can be adapted to local contexts and regulations. In Kenya, solar panels are elevated several feet above ground, ensuring sunlight penetrates the crops while providing shade in hotter regions. This reduces water loss through evaporation, and captures rainwater for use in drought periods, thereby improving crop yields in both quality and quantity. Meanwhile, trials in Norway are exploring the advantages of panels placed vertically across agricultural land, creating vertical bifacial systems that ensure forest preservation.

This synthesis of technology and nature offers a promising path forward. Agrivoltaics not only champions sustainable energy generation but also ensures the continuation, and even enhancement, of agricultural practices. It proposes a holistic solution where the synergy of dual purposes could redefine our approach to land use, energy, and food production for the better.

With thanks to:

Chad Weber, Sandbox Solar and Aidan Muir, who provided some of the material in this film.

Harvesting the Sun Twice project, University of Sheffield, UK

Latia Agribusiness Solutions, Kenya

SINTEF, Norway

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