Danish researchers have analyzed the potential of solar PV systems and their impact on the underlying farmland in three different agricultural projects, including vertical bifacial optimal tilt, horizontal uniaxial tracking, and vertical bifacial setups. They also calculated the potential of agricultural electricity in all regions of the European Union and found that the eligible regions are unevenly distributed.
They looked at two different characteristics of the feasibility of agri-electricity systems: the potential of solar power systems and their impact on the underlying farmland. They focused on three different settings: optimal tilted, horizontal uniaxial tracking, and vertical bifacial.
The team developed a model that simulates shadows on the solar panels and on the ground, allowing for an accurate analysis of reduced output due to shadow losses for each simulated hour, rather than just assuming an overall loss factor.
They found that the axis-tracking system produces higher power generation, but when considering the daily production patterns of different configurations, the vertical bifacial produces higher price-weighted power generation in some countries.
Their goal was to keep at least 80% of the land suitable for cultivation. In this case, the annual electricity yield of crops requiring high radiation in tilt and bifacial vertical positions is the same and limited to 30 kWh/m2. This corresponds to a capacity density of about 30 W/m2which they used to estimate the potential of electric power in different regions of Europe.
“The potential for agri-electricity is huge, as the electricity produced by agri-electric systems could generate 25 times more than the current electricity demand in Europe,” the researchers said in “Comparative analysis of solar power configurations in European agricultural systems”.,” which was published in Advances in solar power.
All in all, the potential agricultural electricity capacity in Europe is 51 TW, which would lead to 71,500 TWh/year of electricity production, the researchers calculate. Their analysis also finds that the eligible area is rather unevenly distributed across Europe, as in some countries, such as Norway, only 1% of the total area is suitable for agricultural electricity use. In other countries, such as Denmark, this percentage is as high as 53 percent.