As the world seeks sustainable solutions to meet its energy needs, the practice of agrivoltaics continues to gain traction, offering a unique synergy that lets commercial and industrial (C&I) solar project developers and engineering, construction, and procurement (EPC) firms do more with less.
Solar developers seeking a new, lucrative revenue stream, look no further than implementing agrivoltaics into your next project. By taking a single plot of land and adding solar power generation to agricultural operations, you get the innovative and hot-market agrivoltaic method. More profits and opportunities, enhanced land utilization, and reduced costs are just some of the driving forces behind the growing interest in this practice.
Let’s look at the emerging opportunities agrivoltaics present for C&I solar project developers and EPC firms that showcase the immense potential of this symbiotic approach.
Enhancing Land Utilization
Agrivoltaics enables the dual use of land for solar energy generation and agricultural activities. C&I solar project developers and EPC firms can tap into this opportunity by designing and implementing solar PV systems compatible with various crops, particularly those that benefit from shading. By utilizing the same land for both purposes, companies can maximize their return on investment (ROI) and contribute to sustainable land management.
Additionally, with land use limits often hindering where and how developers can plant their projects, agrivoltaics provide a promising remedy to this potential problem. By combining PV panels with trackers and crops and/or animals grazing on the land, not only are you able to increase the landowner’s profitability, but recent research has shown that solar arrays help create a microclimate that can improve crop cultivation, leading to higher productivity. This enhances land utilization, generating more profits for all stakeholders.
Increased PV System Energy Yield
Combining solar PV systems with agricultural practices can result in increased energy yield. C&I solar project developers and EPC firms can leverage this opportunity by offering farmers an integrated C&I solar solution with high-powered and high-efficiency PV modules paired with solar trackers to optimize energy generation while supporting local food production.
A study by the University of Arizona examined the combination of agriculture and solar energy production. It found that not only did the agrivoltaic system enhance crop productivity and improve water-use efficiency, but it also increased the PV system’s energy production efficiency. The hotter a solar panel gets, the more its efficiency decreases. But crops cultivated underneath the PV panels emit water through the natural process of transpiration, which lowers the panels’ temperature, resulting in better efficiency and increased energy yield.
More Opportunities for Diverse Revenue Streams
Agrivoltaics opens doors for new revenue streams beyond solar energy generation. By partnering with local farmers or cultivating their crops, C&I solar project developers and EPC firms can explore additional income sources such as agricultural produce sales, community-supported agriculture programs, or partnerships with food suppliers. This diversification can enhance financial stability and strengthen business models.
With agrivoltaics being lucrative but relatively new, it might be difficult for developers to know where to start in this up-and-coming sector. Thankfully, more resources are coming to market to help facilitate the growth — including the AgriSolar Clearinghouse. This resource can offer a place for developers and EPCs to network with others in the industry as well as businesses, land managers, and researchers actively interested and involved in all things agrivoltaics. With a diverse business landscape, more opportunities to create revenue come into play.
Reduced Solar O&M Costs
Let’s face it — costs of doing business continue rising. However, implementing agrivoltaics into the solar industry is proving to do the opposite. Instead of adding to the bill, developers, and landowners are finding ways to cut costs left and right.
One popular method involves bringing sheep to graze on the grass instead of landscapers. In one recent example, this method generated operations and maintenance (O&M) cost savings of up to 75%. Although not all projects will have cost savings that high, it remains a worthwhile endeavor to consider to identify any potential cost savings. Any method to cut project costs will ultimately lead to a lower levelized cost of electricity (LCOE).
Increasing Policy and Incentive Support
Governments and regulatory bodies across the country are recognizing the potential of agrivoltaics and are introducing policies and incentives to support its implementation. C&I solar project developers and EPC firms can leverage these supportive measures to streamline project approvals, secure funding, and access incentives such as grants, tax credits, or feed-in tariffs.
A few recent examples of states introducing agrivoltaic incentives include:
Colorado, a state with an extensive farming and ranching sector, recently passed a law to provide grants for new or ongoing agrivoltaic research.
Massachusetts enacted a feed-in tariff adder of $0.06/kWh for agrivoltaic projects through its Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program.
New Jersey authorized an agrivoltaics pilot program of up to 200 MW on unpreserved farmland and funded an R&D system at the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.
Maximize C&I Solar Project Value
Agrivoltaics presents a compelling opportunity for C&I solar project developers and EPC firms to tap into the synergistic potential of solar energy and agriculture. By embracing agrivoltaics, companies can unlock new revenue streams, enhance land utilization, contribute to environmental sustainability, engage with local communities, and participate in technological advancements. As this emerging field evolves, forward-thinking companies that seize these opportunities stand to reshape the renewable energy landscape while fostering a more sustainable and resilient future.
Like an agrivoltaic approach, Trina Solar is also in the business of doing more with less. That’s why TrinaPro C&I Solutions partners with EPCs and developers to make procurement easy and seamless. Take it further with the Vertex N modules to implement into your development plans. These modules are ultra-high power, up to 600W, and extremely efficient, which means you can use fewer modules to generate the same power as previous module models. The panels use multi-busbar technology for better light trapping effect, lower series resistance, and improved current collection, making them an ideal choice for agrivoltaic projects.
When paired with TrinaTracker, this is an all-encompassing smart C&I solar solution that improves power yield and reduces BOS costs to further drive down LCOE — continuing the theme of doing more with less. With the emergence of agrivoltaics and the technology of Trina’s solutions, we’re ready to help you take your C&I solar projects to the next level.
Learn more about how TrinaPro C&I Solutions can help.
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