Solar PV agriculture is going to be the new trend
While solar projects take lots of land and using barren land is difficult as the land available is in isolated areas, a new trend and a large number of agriculture farms are looking for solar plants to meet their requirements. There is a growing interest among agriculture farm owners to install/co-locating solar with their agriculture farming. Many project developers are exploring the new crops which can be harvested under the solar panels. In this article, we would like to discuss the advantages of farming under the solar panels. Recently, MNRE has also released KUSUM scheme which primarily focus the requirement of installation of solar plants to the farmers. MNRE has also introduced a new scheme for farmers for installation of solar pumps and grid connected solar power plants. The new scheme can be downloaded from following links.
Here we would like to discuss the different benefits of co-locating solar and crop production. The advantages of solar installation as a elevated installation so that the crop production can take place under the solar panels are as follows:
- Reduced Installation Costs: The installation of solar panels in a agriculture farm does not require any additional land cost. Typically, the agricultural land is a flatten land and can be used directly. The power evacuation cost is also minimal which reduces the upfront installation cost of the solar panels.
- Increased PV Performance: Installation of solar panels and growing vegetation under solar panels can lead to lower soiling losses. The module performance will also be better as the modules will be operating at lower temperature and you may expect the solar panels providing you increased yield due to lower operating temperature and lower soiling losses.
- Water use reduction: Installation of solar panels over crop also lead to less water requirement due to lesser soiling losses on the crop.
The vegetation grown under solar panels will also maintain temperature control of the crops and the vegetation underneath can be selected of such of vegetation which require lesser light. Some crops which are favorable to be grown under solar panels are tomatoes, peppers, chard, kale, and herbs.
It is advantageous that the domestic animals like sheep and cows can graze under solar panels. This will provide habitat to these animals and the grazing of these animals under solar panels will lead to low cost vegetation control under the solar panels.
Delhi government has recently launched a scheme specially for farmers who want to do agriculture under the solar panels. The working of this scheme is explained in the following picture.