Agrivoltaics is a new and innovative farming practice that combines agriculture and solar power generation. By installing solar panels over crops, farmers can produce both food and energy on the same land. This has the potential to revolutionize farming in the Hudson Valley, with several benefits:
- Reduces water use by providing shade for crops.
- Studies have shown that crops grown under solar panels can have higher yields than crops grown in full sun.
- Agrivoltaics can also help to improve the quality of crops. Crops grown under solar panels tend to have less sunburn, other heat-related damage and lower impacts from spring and fall frost events.
Agrivoltaics is a climate resiliency technology. At the same time, agrivoltaics can help farmers increase their income and lower operational costs. Solar panels generate electricity that can offset electricity use on farm or be sold to the grid, providing farmers with a steady source of revenue.
Although relatively new in the US, there is over a decade of success from agrivoltaic installations in Europe, Israel, and parts of Asia. When done properly, with attention to site-specific environmental impacts, it has the potential to revolutionize farming in the Hudson Valley. By providing these benefits, agrivoltaics can help farmers to increase their income, reduce their costs, improve the quality of their crops, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Under development currently is a 300 Kw agrivoltaics system at Cornell University’s Hudson Valley Laboratory in Highland. This system will research the impacts for solar over apple orchards and be a demonstration site for the Hudson Valley farming community and New York State.
Chuck Schwartz is director of commercial sales and agrivoltaics for New York State Solar Farm.