Crops & Equipment
There are a variety of crops that are suitable to grow near solar panels. In many instances, the coverage from the panels have a positive impact on crop yields. As well, no specialized equipment is needed, rather simply equipment that is small enough to fit between arrays.
Crops: In many instances, PV panels are especially useful in drought prone areas as the partial shade provides crops with protection from the sun and other elements. Condition such as soil quality, climate and growth habits of the individual farm are important to consider when choosing an agrivoltaic crop.
Examples of some crops that have been successful in regions with similar climates to Alberta are potatoes, lettuce, clover grass, pasture grass, wheat and corn. CanWest Solar is excited to be working with local researchers to development pilot studies regarding agrivoltaics and crops specific to the Alberta region.
Equipment: Regular farm equipment can be used for agrivoltaic farming! There is no “specialized” equipment needed, only equipment that is small enough to fit between arrays.
In most cases, there is roughly 27 feet of space between each row of PV panels. This requires that equipment should be about 20 feet wide at the maximum. About 40% to 50% of the land may still be used as cropland, depending on the set up of the arrays and shape of the individual field. In this way, there is still potential for a sizeable yield even with the presences of panels.
Farmers: increased, reliable and diversified revenue while still keeping land in food production.
Community: Renewable energy sources, sustainable use of land, protection of biodiversity.
Land: Crop protection, water conservation, improved soil, increased habitat for pollinators.