According to a research note from Allied Analytics, experts believe that agrovoltaics can minimize barriers to food security and the transition to clean energy. While the agrivoltaics market is still in its nascent stages, it is expected to grow as the solar market continues to boom due to demand for clean energy and sustainability.
The agrovoltaic subsector market has seen progress as the industry’s learning curve grows around best use cases in recent years, with the global installed capacity of agrivoltaics increasing from 5 MW in 2012 to around 2.9 GW in 2020, according to Allied Analytics.
In order to promote a healthy growth environment, there will be a need for subsidies from the governing authorities. The implementation of agrovoltaic solutions will require joint ventures, leasing agreements, reduced loan rates and risk exposures, the market research notes said. In addition, since there is a significant reduction in crop yields, regulations regarding solar installations must be enforced to minimize the use of land.
Based on climate change and increasing drought and extreme weather events, agrovoltaics offers important benefits such as zero-emission solar energy combined with food production and protection of crops from drought and damage caused by hail or heavy rain.
To date, the world’s largest agrovoltaic installation has been built on the edge of the Gobi desert in China, where berries are grown under solar modules, with a total output of 700 MW to increase to 1 GW.
Additional driving forces for agrovoltaic implementation are scarcity of land and drought conditions in many regions as well as technological optimizations. The prerequisite is to intervene in agricultural use as little as possible and to work closely with farmers on a wider use of agrovoltaics.
Challenges for installing agrovoltaic projects include international standardization, removal of regulatory barriers, incentive systems, monitoring, farmer involvement and further improvements in the economic efficiency of energy plus agricultural applications.
While all crops need sunlight to grow, too much can cause some plants to become stressed, especially cool season plants such as brassicas. Plants growing under the diffuse shade of PV panels are buffered from the most intense rays of the day. Shade reduces air temperature and the rate of soil water evaporation, a win-win for both plants and farm workers on hot summer days. The plants in turn emit water vapor that helps to naturally cool PV panels from below, which can increase panel efficiency.
Agrivoltaics is divided into system design, cell type, crop and region. By system design, the agrivoltaic market is divided into fixed solar panels and dynamic. The fixed solar panel segment dominated the market share in 2021 and is expected to continue its dominance through the projection period due to ease of handling and high power generation.
In dynamic system applications, agrovoltaic panels are moved or adjusted as needed, which can be cumbersome if required to be done routinely, while in fixed panel systems, no such hassle has to be dealt with.
By crop, the agrivoltaics market is divided into four categories: vegetables, fruits, crops and others. The crop segment dominated the growth of the agrivoltaics market in 2021 based on an increase in extreme weather as solar panels protected crops from excessive sun and dehydration. The same is expected to continue its dominance in the 2031 projection period followed by the vegetable segment.
Highlights from the agrovoltaic study:
- Fixed solar panels are expected to grow at the highest CAGR of approximately 10.5% over the forecast period for the agrovoltaic market
- The monocrystalline segment dominated the agriculture market share with over 51.7% in 2021
- By region, North America dominated the agrovoltaic market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.7% during the forecast period
According to Allied Analytics, major agrivoltaic market developers include BayWa, Insolight SA, JA Solar, Enel Green Power, Sunseed APV, Mirai Solar, Namaste Solar, Ombrea, Sun’Agri and Next2Sun.
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