Agrivoltaics refers to the innovative use of farmland to produce electricity using solar panels, and food. This system was designed to develop sustainable solutions to ensure food security and shift to renewable sources of energy. Although wind and solar have been at the forefront of the energy transition, they require huge areas of land for their installations.
However, part of this global surge to use more PV module installations are met by building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) and building applied photovoltaics. there is plenty of room for PV module applications as a construction material to fulfill multi-purpose land use solutions including agrivoltaics.
Like any solution, agrivoltaics has its own advantages and challenges. Agrivoltaics features advantages including having a lower price compared to small-scale rooftop solar application, protection against hail, frost, and drought, reducing the shadow cast on the ground compared to other greenhouse concepts used for agriculture, increasing food production in addition to on- site electricity generation. One of the biggest challenges of agrivoltaic for large-scale agricultural lands or farmlands is limiting machinery farming because of the existence of limited space above the crops and plants.
Agrivoltaics installed capacity has scaled up drastically and reached approximately 2.9 GW in 2018 as compared to 5 MW in 2012. As an example of the huge potential of agrivoltaics in the globe, we can point out to 1700 GW technical potential for it in Germany which is close to three times of the total installed solar capacity worldwide.
It is important to note that there are national funding programs for developing agrivoltaics in countries including Japan, China, France, the U.S., and recently Korea.