Turning greenhouse roofs into solar power plants is not a new idea, but it is a gamble that is gaining ground thanks to its benefits for clean energy production and for the farms themselves, which would reduce their production costs, they would be more sustainable and could even contribute to the optimization of the territory.
However, this combo model hasn’t quite taken off, why? Jinlin Xue, an agricultural engineering expert at Nanjing Agricultural University in China, replied. After performing a economic study on the feasibility of putting this idea into practice, the researcher concludes that the high investment required for the installation of photovoltaic panels in greenhouses is unaffordable for farmers “And even for large companies”.
That the selling price of solar panels in the market is reduced “it’s crucial” for the extension of this model, assures the expert. This goes further, also considering the existence of public support to start these installations and the time of the year when the sun shines as two key factors to enhance and make profitable the conversion of the roofs of cultures under plastic in spaces for the capture of energy.
However, advancement of this model could bring an additional benefit to the owners of these farming systems apart from that obtained from their own production in plastic. Likewise, this possibility would contribute decisively to the reduction of pressure on soil resources available for the installation of solar power plants, among other potential benefits.
In fact, the country of origin of the study, China, is no stranger to all these aspects. Therefore, the Asian giant set to work with the intention to reach 150 MW of installed capacity on greenhouse roofs within three years. With various initiatives activated mainly in Guizhou, in the south of the country, China will support this use with around 280 million euros of investments.
The idea, that To be profitable, it must not exceed 15 MW of installed capacity per operation, is therefore gaining strength in China. However, it could be exported and spread to other countries with a history of plastic cultivation, such as Spain. Alone In the province of Almería, greenhouses cover an area of over 30,000 hectares that with the introduction of so-called agrovoltaic energy, they would not only contain production costs, but would also become a huge solar energy harvesting plant.