AGRIVOLTAISM: ENERGY SUPPORTING FARMERS

The challenges of agriculture

In order to feed the 10 billion inhabitants of our planet in 2050, we need more farming surfaces. But the yields of currently farmed surfaces are either stagnating or dwindling. 

In January 2019, the “Creating a Sustainable Food Future” Report indicated that to sustainably feed the population in 2050, agricultural land would have to be expanded by 600 Mha, i.e. twice the size of India or 20 times the size of the agricultural land of France.

Many arguments are put forward to try and convert thousands of hectares of agricultural lands.  Main arguments used are: these lands “are polluted by agriculture” or “they have a low agricultural value” or they allegedly have been declassified from agricultural zones.

 Extreme climate events such as heat waves, summer droughts and intense winter rainfalls have a disastrous effect on agriculture.

Excessively high temperatures impact crops by damaging the plants, their leaves and fruits. Quality and yield of crops are affected and water resources are increasingly scarce.  

Challenges of producing photovoltaic energy

In order to reach 30 to 35 GWc of solar production by 2028 as recommended by the “Programmation Pluriannuelle de l’Energie” , space will be necessary to build new photovoltaic plants. Solar energy will therefore increase its development in the country.

Solar installations are limited to area with no land-use conflict (quarry, wastelands, floodplains, polluted areas). Less and less of these are available, thus increasing their renting costs. Therefore, only expensive lands are still available due to their distance to the grid or to the fact that they are rugged. Solar energy needs space.

Combining agricultural activities and agrivoltaic shadings offers nearly limitless possibilities. Covering only 0.5% of cultivated lands in France with agrivoltaic structures would produce the equivalent of 58 nuclear reactors in service in France.

The solution: combine agriculture and photovoltaics

Current solutions are not ideal. For example, photovoltaic greenhouses are slowing down production due to a lack of light. In 2018, observers indicated that 80% of photovoltaic greenhouses yielded very little or nothing at all.

Dynamic agrivoltaism, developed by Sun’Agri is a digital solution based on the growth models of each plant. Thanks to a structure build 4 m above ground, it offers protection to plants while producing solar electricity.