Over the last fifty years or so, we’ve been trying to find a sensible and renewable replacement for fossil fuels as our primary source of energy. Why would we want to do that, you may ask? Well, there’s the tiny issue of the fact that if we burn all our fossil fuels, sea levels may rise by as much as 200 feet–enough to drown most major cities in the world. So if we want to avoid that, we’ve got to replace fossil fuels with something. Some possible sources of energy that have been touted include wind energy, nuclear energy, and even solar energy. Sadly, all of these options are either unsustainable, too dangerous, or simply too expensive to scale sensibly — but they are only all of these things on their own. Once we add other elements to them, something exciting begins to happen. A great example is solar energy.
On its own, solar energy is difficult to scale because solar farms take a lot of space which isn’t worth the value of the energy they produce. But what if it didn’t have to take that much space? What if solar farms can be built into actual farms? What if crops can be grown under solar panels? First, what’s Agrivoltaics? A quick Wikipedia search would show you that it is the simultaneous use of areas of land for both solar photovoltaic power generation and agriculture. But that seems kind of basic, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. Solar energy is probably the easiest solution to our energy conundrum. There’s an abundance of sunlight to harvest, harvesting it doesn’t do any danger to our environment, and it’s a pretty safe form of energy.
For example, you’ll never learn of a solar energy farm polluting rivers and destroying seas. However, the problem with solar energy is that you need a lot of space to generate enough power. Unfortunately for us, land is a scarce resource. While solar is renewable energy, land is not. One way to solve this problem is to find a way to combine farmlands and solar farms. That way, the land will serve two purposes and we’ll be able to generate enough power for ourselves.
Credit Tesla Domain