Concentrated Photovoltaics Helps Crop Growth And Generate Electricity

The technology utilizes the spectrum of sunlight not needed for crops

April 25, 2023


Researchers at the Tarbiat Modares University in Iran have found that concentrator photovoltaics (CPV) helps in shading management while equally distributing the solar spectrum to balance energy and water levels in crops.

The work published in the journal Applied Energy highlights that the balanced distribution of sunlight using CPV allows photovoltaic systems to generate sufficient amounts of electricity without affecting agricultural production.

They claimed that solar thermal collectors can be used to convert solar energy into heat, while photovoltaics can be used to convert solar radiation directly into electricity. The researchers used CPV and mitigated the issue of shading.

CPV is a clean technology that offers enhanced spectral processing capabilities and comes with highly concentrated power-generating efficiency, making the technology a suitable solution for integrating photosynthesis.

The researchers in the new work observed the working principles of CPV modules and studied their uses in concentrating agrivoltaics.

The researchers used parabolic glass covered with a multilayer dichroic polymer film that reflected near-infrared (NIR) radiation onto the solar cells installed at the focal area, which helped transmit photons in the range of photosynthetically active radiation.

The scientists then used Fresnel lenses, highly transparent sun-tracking louvers that help concentrate direct sunlight onto the solar cells to generate electricity.

While crops or plants do not require the complete solar spectrum to grow, combining photovoltaics to the process maintains the amount of energy and water level required for the growth.

However, the researchers stated that the development and use of CPV technology are slower due to relatability issues, high installation costs, lack of data and field expertise, and crucial inputs on maintenance and operating costs.

The team further claimed that developing photovoltaics for use in agriculture can further eliminate the dependence of farmers on fossil fuels and contribute to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions globally.

In a similar study, material scientists at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering designed a solar roof with semi-transparent solar cells for a miniature greenhouse prototype. They found that the solar roof helped produce sufficient energy from sunlight to grow plants or crops.

A team of researchers from Cornell University found that growing commercial crops on solar farms is an efficient use of agricultural land, which can boost both commercial food production and improve the performance and longevity of solar panels.