Crops and vegetables may not be grown under the direct sun in the future. They can be grown under tinted solar panels which will allow the land to produce electricity and grow crops at the same time. This may be the future according to the research done by the researchers in the UK and Italy. It will be helpful for both the farmers as well as our environment.
The Orange colored solar panels consume few wavelengths of light and pass the rest that is best for the growth of the plant. The researchers even claimed that their technology can produce a quality crop for the best nutrition. This is a very big advantage for the farmers to gain more profit and also produce crops with superior nutritional value. Usually opaque or neutral semi-transparent solar panels are used in Agrivoltaics.
A biochemist at the University Of Cambridge named Paolo Bombelli and his teammates tried it with the orange-tinted semi-transparent solar panels. Basil and spinach were grown at greenhouses replacing the glass roof with orange-tinted solar panels. The growth of the crops was decreased compared to normal greenhouse production but the Agrivoltaic process gave an economic advantage over it as reported in Advanced Energy Materials.
Economic Advantage –
The spinach along with the electricity that was formed in the Agrivoltaics was valued about 35% more than that of the one produced in the normal greenhouse. Alongside this, basil and electricity were valued at about 2.5% more. The crop value was determined by the wholesale market price and the electricity value was the local tariff for selling electricity to the Italian national grid. The researchers said that the difference in economic gain occurred because basil has a 5 times higher price in the market than the value of spinach. Well, the agrivoltaic process gets more gain with low valued crops.
The researchers noticed some differences between the agrivoltaic and the normally grown plants. Those grown under the solar panels had more dynamic photosynthetic use of light and they produced more tissue above the ground and less below the ground and thus it emerged in plant morphology with basil generating bigger leaves and spinach with long stems.
So, overall this technology gave a new path for crops and electricity to be produced simultaneously with the process of agrivoltaics. With the agrivoltaics process, it has not only helped in saving the lands but also helped to improve the quality of the crops and increased the financial area for the farmers.
Bombelli said sources that the technology would be relevant in places besides Italy’s Mediterranean weather, depending on the selected conditions. It depends on the amount of land covered by the solar panel and the type of crop chosen. The only way to confirm it is by conducting additional experimental work. The team is hoping to run a trial in the UK.