Photo: Flickr.com / Solar Trade Association CC BY-SA
Pastures thrive under solar panels
Solar panels in pastures increased grass feed for sheep and cows by 90 per cent, according to a study done by researchers at Oregon State University. Measurements at a test site on the campus were done over two years. Significant differences in mean air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, and soil moisture were observed. Areas under PV solar panels maintained higher soil moisture throughout the period of observation. Besides a significant increase in late season biomass under the PV panels, the shaded areas were also more than three times as water efficient.
“Semi-arid pastures with wet winters may be ideal candidates for agrivoltaic systems as supported by the dramatic gains in productivity,” the researchers conclude and continue, “the agricultural benefits of energy and pasture co-location could reduce land competition and conflict between renewable energy and agricultural production”.