Remarkable agrivoltaic influence on soil moisture, micrometeorology and water-use efficiency

The goal of this study was to show that the impacts of these factors should be considered in designing the solar farms to take advantage of potential net gains in agricultural and power production.
Authors: Elnaz Hassanpour Adeh , John S. Selker, Chad W. Higgins
 
Editor: Mauro Villarini, Universita degli Studi della Tuscia, ITALY
 
Journal: PLOS ONE 
 
Publisher: PLOS 
 
Abstract
 
Power demands are set to increase by two-fold within the current century and a high fraction of that demand should be met by carbon free sources. Among the renewable energies, solar energy is among the fastest growing; therefore, a comprehensive and accurate design methodology for solar systems and how they interact with the local environment is vital. This paper addresses the environmental effects of solar panels on an unirrigated pasture that often experiences water stress. Changes to the microclimatology, soil moisture, water usage, and biomass productivity due to the presence of solar panels were quantified.
 
The goal of this study was to show that the impacts of these factors should be considered in designing the solar farms to take advantage of potential net gains in agricultural and power production. Microclimatological stations were placed in the Rabbit Hills agrivoltaic solar arrays, located in Oregon State campus, two years after the solar array was installed. Soil moisture was quantified using neutron probe readings. Significant differences in mean air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, and soil moisture were observed. Areas under PV solar panels maintained higher soil moisture throughout the period of observation. A significant increase in late season biomass was also observed for areas under the PV panels (90% more biomass), and areas under PV panels were significantly more water efficient (328% more efficient).
 

Photo: Aerial photo of 35th Street agrivoltaic solar array, Oregon State University Corvallis campus (this photo is taken in winter and shadow pattern is different from the measurements which held in summer). Copyright: Oregon State University.

 

Photo: Control area set up. Copyright: Oregon State University

Copyright: © 2018 Hassanpour Adeh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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