Oct 4, 2022 - Business

Longmont company is part of emerging agrivoltaic industry

A worker at an agrivoltaic farm in Chiba, Japan. Photo: Toru Hanai/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A worker at an agrivoltaic farm in Chiba, Japan. Photo: Toru Hanai/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Farmers and researchers are experimenting with installing solar panels over active agricultural land in an emerging industry called agrivoltaics.

Why it matters: As the world seeks to wean itself off fossil fuels, solar power will indisputably be part of the post-carbon energy mix.

State of play: U.S. agrivoltaic pilot programs are afoot in Longmont, home to Jack's Solar Garden, which considers itself the country's largest commercially active site for agrivoltaics research.

How it works: Solar panels installed over farmers' crops generate electricity that can be sold to an energy supplier and fed into the power grid for community use.

  • Crops that thrive in the shade — think leafy greens like kale and lettuce, or root vegetables such as radish and beets — are protected from harsh direct sunlight.
  • Plants, meanwhile, naturally give off water vapor that can help cool solar panels from below, improving their efficiency.

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