Unique Integration of Solar and Other Sustainability Technologies with Traditional Farming Can Result in More Productive Land Use
With growing research highlighting many benefits of incorporating sustainability technologies and methods into agriculture models, transitioning to a better infrastructure is increasingly justified.
Team Gemini has recently explored a variety of farming enterprises that are integrating solar and other technology in support of their operations. As resource challenges and uncertainties continue to grow with rising demand for agricultural commodities, it will become increasingly worthwhile to integrate at least some sustainability technologies into one’s farming operations. This is not just relevant for producing needed utilities like electricity, heat, and water on site, but also for getting the best use out of finite amounts of land.
Team Gemini’s variety of technology options enable many sustainable options for food and other resource production and processing relevant to farming communities. Research by a variety of institutions also continues to explore ways in which to maximize productivity of the land we use for agricultural and other commodities.
One such experiment includes analyzing ways in which different crops can flourish based on sharing part of their space with a unique solar panel setup:
According to a Fraunhofer press release, the experiment involves 720 bi-facial solar panels covering about a third of a hectare of agricultural land (on the Demeter farm cooperative Heggelbach). The panels are mounted high enough to allow the crops planted below to receive almost as much sunshine as they would if the panels were not there and to permit farm machinery to operate beneath them. After a year of trials, the research showed the dual use system increased the total productivity of the land by 60%.
Fraunhofer refers to the dual use system as “agrophotovoltaics,” or APV. “APV has the potential to open up new space that is urgently needed for the PV expansion in Germany, says professor Hans-Martin Henning, the director of Fraunhofer ISE. “At the same time, APV can mitigate the conflicting interests between agriculture and open space PV systems for viable land. Before market readiness, however, other sectors and differently sized systems still must be tested. Also, the technical integration must be further advanced, for example, the implementation of storage.”
“In order to provide the necessary proof-of-concept before market entry, we need to compare further techno-economical applications of APV, demonstrate the transferability to other regional areas and also realize larger systems,” says project manager Stephan Schindele. Experiments involving solar in combination with fruits, berries, hops, and grapes are planned for the future, along with various technologies such as energy storage, special films with organic solar cells, and solar PV water treatment systems.
The benefits of sustainable agriculture beyond energy components encourage a shift towards improved farming methods. Team Gemini provides many options for building infrastructure for agricultural commodities, with technologies by Artigianfer, Bühler, Bucher, Viscon, and others. Team members like 2G Energy (combined heat and power), Viessmann (thermal energy and more), ABB (resource management and monitoring), and A3 (wastewater treatment and conservation) support all needed utilities. These companies, among others, offer outstanding technology and service choices to fulfill a variety of energy efficiency, resource production, and processing needs.
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The original article on this topic can be found at this link.