Agrivoltaics is a relatively new concept, but makes perfect sense. Using land to grow food and harvest power. Industries and communities not accustomed to working together, let alone talking, are now innovating together to find ways to enhance energy productivity and agricultural yield from our finite land resource.
Check out the work of the Farmland Trust, who has become the latest ally in innovative deployment of solar across America. By 2050 solar will need to be implemented on 10 million acres to reach our national goals. It can’t be a zero sum game.
In addition to collaborating on land use, numerous experiments are underway to explore realizable benefits of marrying solar and ecology. Internationally, there are experiments growing broccoli underneath the solar panels, leading to deeper green, more nutritious broccoli. Strategizing the ecology underneath the panels can lower the ambient temperature, which increases the efficiency of solar panels. Interesting couplings of solar and edibles include root vegetables, green, raspberries, strawberries, carrots, beets, grassess for ruminants, and more to come.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, here in Austin, is just beginning to set up experiments to explore new types of grassland restoration in the context of solar systems. Take a visit there. If you do please look up when at the ticket kiosk to the integrated green roof and solar awning- a collaboration between Lighthouse Solar and Sanders Architecture.