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Menopausal Mother Nature

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‘Agrivoltaic farming’ is beating global warming—solar panels are saving crops – ThePrint

As temperatures soar to record levels and wildfires rage around the world, the need to meet net zero targets has never been more urgent. At the same time, increasing climate resilience across food systems will be needed to counter rising hunger and malnutrition, according to UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid.

Agrivoltaic farming could be a solution to not just one but both of these problems. It uses the shaded space underneath solar panels to grow crops.

This increases land-use efficiency, as it lets solar farms and agriculture share ground, rather than making them compete against one another.

Solar panels have to sometimes be elevated or suspended to allow plants to grow beneath them. Another option is putting them on the roofs of greenhouses. This allows enough light and rainwater to reach the crops, as well as providing access for farm machinery.

Where is agrivoltaic farming already in use?

Researchers in South Korea have been growing broccoli underneath photovoltaic panels.

The panels are positioned 2-3 metres off the ground and sit at an angle of 30 degrees, providing shade and offering crops protection from the weather.

The researchers, from Chonnam National University, also discovered that the broccoli produced was a deeper shade of green, making it more appealing to many consumers.

Elsewhere, agrivoltaic systems in East Africa are allowing farmers to make better use of land that was previously seen as unviable.

This has resulted in rural farmers being able to grow a greater range of higher-value crops. The project effectively harvests the power of the sun twice, the researchers say.

How could this help tackle climate change?

Agrivoltaics is one way of using the same area of land to produce more food while also rolling out more sources of renewable energy.

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