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Solar Power Increases Agricultural Efficiency By 60%, German Project Proves

Urban Farm.Linda/Wikimedia

The prospect of using solar power to enhance agricultural production and efficiency of land use has been thrown around for quite some time. However, Germany actually took the concept seriously with a project called Agrophotovoltaic – Resource Efficient Land Use (APV-Resola). The project was so successful, it proved that combining solar power with agriculture increases efficiency by up to 60 percent.

The APV-Resola was run from the Demeter farm by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE and the point of it was to combine both crop cultivation and solar energy harvesting in one place. As the mentioned in the press release, the conflict of using the land to only build an agricultural plot or a solar farm produces quite a bit of inefficiency. So the researchers thought, why not just do both in the same area?

As Fraunhofer ISE agrophotovoltaics project manager, Stephan Schindele explains it, the project was a huge success. Not only did combining both solar harvesting and crop production not interfere with the yield of both resources, the initiative also proved that it’s significantly more efficient.

“The project results from the first year are a complete success: The agrophotovoltaic system proved suitable for the practice and costs as much as a small solar roof system. The crop production is sufficiently high and can be profitably sold on the market,” Schindele said.

About 40 percent of the power that was generated by the solar panels on the farm was used to produce the crops, Futurism reports and was even able to power electric vehicles. With the 720 bifacial solar modules installed throughout the farm, the plants also received enough solar radiation to thrive.

These types of projects could help countries with limited fertile land like Germany to increase their power and agricultural productivity. In nations with a significant amount of fertile regions and lots of Sun, the results could be more substantial.

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