Solar energy is clearly on top in the search for clean, renewable energy sources since it provides clean energy. In global electricity scenarios where carbon emissions are reduced to almost zero by 2050, solar energy typically will make up between 20% – 60% of the total 1. However, the requirement for adequate land for solar panel installation is growing along with the demand for solar energy. Land occupation by USSE is projected to be significant, ranging from 0.3 to 1.4% of total territory in India, 0.5 to 2.8% in the EU, and 1.2 to 5.2% in Japan and South Korea 1. This requirement sometimes interacts with the usage of agricultural land, posing a problem between food production and renewable energy.

Agrivoltaics is a unique strategy that solves this problem by combining solar panels and agriculture. Solar photovoltaic arrays and agricultural practices are integrated on the same piece of land, known as agricultural solar panels or solar sharing. This innovative approach has several advantages that maximize agricultural production and land usage while also improving sustainability.

Agrivoltaic system 4
Agrivoltaic system 4

 Agrivoltaics in India: Challenges and Considerations

Agrivoltaics, the practice of combining agriculture with photovoltaic solar panel installation, holds promise for India, given its large agricultural lands and increasing energy demands. According to the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) projections for 2022, India needed an area of about 1200 square km to produce 60 GW of PV-based powers 5. However, several challenges and considerations need to be addressed:

Ø  Land usage: India’s large population and agricultural demands put strain on its overall land usage. Careful planning is necessary to achieve optimal land usage when balancing solar panel installations with agricultural productivity.

Ø  Crop Selection: Agrivoltaics is not suitable for every crop. Certain vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms that can withstand shadow are perfect for growing beneath solar panels. Choosing the right crops is essential to preserving agricultural output and utilizing solar energy in agriculture.

Ø  Water Management: Water resources play a major role in Indian agriculture. Crop development may be impacted by agrivoltaics systems’ effects on soil moisture content and water availability. It’s important to put effective water management strategies into practice, such as rainwater collection and drip irrigation.

Ø  Technical Integration: Knowledge of solar technology and agriculture are prerequisites for successfully integrating solar panels into agricultural landscapes. For farmers to efficiently maintain agrivoltaic systems, they require assistance and training.

Ø  Environmental Impact: Land conservation and lower carbon emissions are two ways that agrivoltaics can assist the environment. However, by using appropriate design and management techniques, any negative effects including soil compaction, the heat island effect, and biodiversity loss should be properly avoided.

Benefits of Agrivoltaics in India

The combination of solar photovoltaic systems and agriculture, or agrivoltaics, has several advantages for India.

1.      Making the Best Use of Land

The effective utilization of land is one of the main benefits of agrivoltaics. It allows for the optimal use of available land by using the same space for both solar energy in agriculture and agricultural practices. The sector is ideally suited for India, given that 60.43% of the nation’s land is used for agriculture. Additionally, agriculture contributes around 18.8% of the GVA overall. As agriculture occupies a significant portion of India, agrivoltaics is an ideal choice for this country.

agriculture solar system
agriculture solar system

2.      Increase Agricultural Production

Studies have shown that agrivoltaics can increase productivity in agriculture, despite the common misconception that solar panels shadow crops and prevent their growth. By providing shade and lowering water evaporation, solar panel placement creates a microclimate that is favorable to some crops. Furthermore, increasing crop yields and promoting photosynthesis are two benefits of the diffused light that passes through the panels. According to research found that using photovoltaic technology combined with agricultural practices increased agricultural yields per unit of farmed land by 20–60%, depending on the crop 3.

solar power system for agriculture
solar power system for agriculture

3.      Sustainable Resource Management

Agrivoltaics minimize soil erosion and maximize water use, both of which support sustainable resource management. Irrigation is less necessary because of the shade that solar panels produce, which helps conserve soil moisture. Moreover, the panels minimize soil erosion and shield crops from harm by acting as a wind barrier.

solar energy in agriculture
solar energy in agriculture

4.      Climate Change Mitigation

By lowering greenhouse gas emissions while promoting carbon sequestration, agrivoltaics contribute to climate change mitigation. The production of solar energy reduces carbon emissions by eliminating the demand for energy sources based on fossil fuels. Furthermore, keeping agricultural land intact contributes to the maintenance of carbon sinks and overall carbon neutrality.

5.      Economic Viability and Rural Development

Farmers and communities can benefit financially from the combination of solar energy with agriculture. While rural communities gain from the development of jobs and higher tax revenues connected with solar projects, farmers can make additional cash through land rental contracts with solar firms. Furthermore, by drawing in investment and promoting sustainable development, agrivoltaics could improve rural economies.

The generation of renewable energy and food production are two issues that agrivoltaics provides a viable solution for. Agricultural solar panels, which capture solar radiation and use it to grow crops, offer a sustainable way to increase crop production, maximize land use, and support economic viability. Agrivoltaics is a bright example of innovation at the nexus of agriculture and renewable energy, providing a valuable model for the global energy transition towards a more sustainable future.

As research and development in agrivoltaics continue to progress. this integrated strategy has the potential to significantly contribute to the creation of a greener and more resilient planet. We can create a future where agriculture and renewable energy collaborate to meet the demands of an expanding population while protecting the environment for future generations by adopting agrivoltaics.


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