Agrivoltaics: The Answer to Water Demand, Carbon Emissions, and Rural Areas

Nature

According to a published by the Oregon State University (OSU), co-developing land for both solar PV (photovoltaic) power and agriculture might provide at least 20″ of the total electricity generation in the US, and that comes along with an investment of less than 1% of the annual national budget.

workers installing solar energy farm

(Photo : Photo from Science in HD)

In the study, it shows that a wide-scale installation of agrivoltaics or agrophotovoltaic systems can reduce the carbon dioxide emission in the US by 330,000 tons, that’s the same as getting 75,000 cars off the road every year, and it might also create more job openings in rural or far-flung areas and communities. All these opportunities come along with a minimum possible impact on the amount of crop harvested per area of land!

According to OSU associate professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences, Chad Higgins, agrivoltaics can provide a rare chance for real synergy, or the interaction of systems that creates a more significant impact than the sum of its units. The possibility of lowering water demand, reducing carbon emissions, and a chance to make more prosperous rural areas.

The whole agrivoltaic system’s aims can also match federal legislation packaging seeking to address climate change issues packed with economic inequalities.

“Rural America, agriculture, in particular, can be the solution to many of our concerns, whether it be renewable energy, mitigating climate change impacts, sustainable food or good water resource management,” Higgins said. “That connection is untapped mostly because there hasn’t been sufficient investment in those communities.

Higgins and his team claim that everything in the paper is all possible, technically and politically. Plus, they also stated that it would make returns after the initial investment as the proposed system includes creating economic opportunities.

OSU’s research team’s next move was to demonstrate their project to the agricultural community with the hopes of getting potential backers, funders, and supporters to do their thesis into a reality. They showed an analysis of their paper, one that includes installing a working solar farm with the intent of prioritizing agri-activities.

Looking at the future, Higgins believes that the wide-scale installation of their proposed system can open opportunities for similar technologies. It targets the creation of a surplus of solar energy that can be used to power electric farm equipment like tractors and the like. He is also hoping for the involvement of AI (artificial intelligence in the process.

In a related article, Perihelion: The Day Earth is Closest to the Sun

WHY IS RENEWABLE ENERGY IMPORTANT?

The usage of renewable or sustainable energy sources can lead to the lowering of prices and demand for natural gas and coal. The competitive market can lead to traditional energy companies creating initiatives to compete against companies that provide sustainable energy. Chances are, the possibilities of diversifying the sources and supplies of energy can help lessen the consumption of fossil fuel-based energy sources and prevent fuel price spikes.

Also, aside from the possibilities of creating a vast market, sustainable energy sources are more beneficial to the environment compared to their more traditional “coaly/fuely” cousins. The widespread use of such energy sources has been one of the primary contributing factors to global warming that is rapidly changing the climate.

READ NEXT: Craig Bouchard Unveils An Uncexpected Source of Clean Energy

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