Buy 1, Get 1 (Sort Of) Free. We are all attracted to that, aren’t we?
You may have heard of solar parking lots, solar powered mines, and even parks that cultivate honey bees. But, the list does not end there. There are various means to find a middle-ground solution for optimal land usage.
Addressing two very common global issues — food and power security, we present to you - Solar Double Cropping.
What is Solar Double Cropping? Cultivating shade-loving crops under an array of solar panels.
How is it done?
Seeds of different vegetables are sown beneath the panels leading to dual utilisation of the same land. The seeds are chosen considering factors like daylight and shade requirement, crop cycle, season, temperature, type and fertility of the soil. Natural rainwater and the water that is used for the cleaning of these solar panels are funnelled down to cultivate the chosen shade-loving crops.
Two Goals. One Solution.
Solar panel efficiency is affected by an increase in the surrounding temperature. Excess heat under the panel reduces output efficiency by 10–25%. (Read more: Output current exponentially changes with temperature of the solar panels.)
Therefore, solar power clubbed with farming is a win-win situation. Panels are set-up a little above the surface level, allowing the prolonged flow of air to provide a cooling effect. Simultaneously, the heat under the panels is utilised by the plants for their growth.
We may have 99 problems, but food and power security need not be two of them.
So, how can you be a part of this dual land and water use paradigm?
An IGBC Platinum rated apartment building in Bengaluru has successfully adopted this technique. Today, while being able to power their common area with solar energy, they also grow vegetables for the community.
Can you also do it? Yes.
How? It involves two simple steps.
1. Become an independent power producer. Install a solar energy system on your idle roof space or land area.
2. Become an independent food producer. Cultivate shadow-resistant crops under the solar panels. You can also choose to grow plants that require light, around the panels.
It’s that easy.
While this concept is far from reaching the masses, even a niche adoption of solar double cropping is a big leap towards creating a sustainable world.
Solar-jointed-Farming: A Summary
Solar power plants have potential to double-utilise the land by incorporating agricultural activities under solar panels.
1. Steady income from utilising the clean power and selling off excess energy and farm produce
2. Optimal utilisation of water
3. Increase in area of land for agriculture
1. Reduction in the fine dust on the crop enabling healthy growth
2. Hyperlocal employment generation
3. Escalation of land value
In a society riddled with energy crises, and a shortage of quality organic produce, solar double cropping solves both problems in one go.