Agrivoltaic system design tools for managing trade-offs between energy production, crop productivity and water consumption

Emily Warmann, G. Darrel Jenerette, Greg A. Barron-Gafford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Agrivoltaic systems that locate crop production and photovoltaic energy generation on the same land have the potential to aid the transition to renewable energy by reducing the competition between food, habitat, and energy needs for land while reducing irrigation requirements. Experimental efforts to date have not adequately developed an understanding of the interaction among local climate, array design and crop selection sufficient to manage trade-offs in system design. This study simulates the energy production, crop productivity and water consumption impacts of agrivoltaic array design choices in arid and semi-arid environments in the Southwestern region of the United States. Using the Penman-Monteith evapotranspiration model, we predict agrivoltaics can reduce crop water consumption by 30%-40% of the array coverage level, depending on local climate. A crop model simulating productivity based on both light level and temperature identifies afternoon shading provided by agrivoltaic arrays as potentially beneficial for shade tolerant plants in hot, dry settings. At the locations considered, several designs and crop combinations exceed land equivalence ratio values of 2, indicating a doubling of the output per acre for the land resource. These results highlight key design axes for agrivoltaic systems and point to a decision support tool for their development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034046
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

Keywords

  • agrivoltaic
  • crop
  • design
  • energy
  • production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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