The dual use of agricultural land as a power station and food cultivation is a really promising approach. We can continue to provide cheap food and at the same time get cheap solar power. In Germany there is a lot of discussion about it and hopefully there will finally be more movement in the market. We definitely need an eco-social energy transition and should do everything we can.
Nevertheless, I would like to say a few words about the expectations of Agri Photovoltaics. From a global perspective, we already have an enormous need for mulch plastic films in arable farming. In many parts of the world this film has become indispensable and in China it contributes to enormous pollution because these films very often remain in the ground. According to the FAO it is mulched with foils to protect the soil from drying out and erosion. But this film also holds back unwanted weeds or weeds. Agri Photovoltaik can only partially fulfill these functions. The shading helps against erosion and dehydration, but it is not a real adaptation to the rising temperatures.
Solar modules have the property of having a bad albedo and so under certain circumstances they can even create a local heat island effect. It is possible to apply a special nano layer to cool the PV modules and the environment, but this has still been brought into series production.
Probably because there is no political will to do so. In general, it is not really in the mind that we are much closer to the tipping points than politicians want to admit. Thus, the need for thermal mitigation (adaptation) is not perceived as necessary. The paradigm still prevails that we could overcome the climate crisis with a pure CO2 reduction. A real adaptation to the new climate reality, also in agriculture, could be achieved with mirrors. Certainly also in combination with (vertical) PV modules, but the heat has to be reflected into space in order to really cool the ground. What a plastic-free, highly reflective mulch film can look like is not yet clear and requires some experimentation.
— Thomas Reis (@peakaustria) December 15, 2021