Renewable energy and sustainable food production are both in high demand as we move into a future of changing climate and growing population. But how do we allocate space for solar energy production and farmland when they both demand similar geographic conditions? Agrivoltaics, the process of growing crops underneath solar panels, maybe the solution to this dilemma. 

Greg Barron-Gafford, an associate professor in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona, has been studying the effects of combining food and energy production and has found that the two actually produce a symbiotic relationship. The solar panels provide cooler days and warmer nights to create a milder climate for the plants and also prevent water from evaporating as quickly after irrigation, allowing for less water use. Furthermore, the plants offer an evaporative cooling for the panels so they last longer and operate better. 

Combining these two critical industries saves energy, resources, and land, and even produces better results from our farmland and our solar farms. As we face unpredictable weather patterns and increased demand for renewables, agrivoltaics is a critical and ingenious method for tackling these challenges. Read the full solutions news article below to learn more about Barron-Gafford’s research and the benefits of these innovative systems.