- SolAgra has contracted with the University of Delaware to build two agrivoltaic solar arrays at campuses in Newark and Georgetown.
- The research aims to study the co-location of solar tracking systems with crop production, focusing on high-value fruits and vegetables.
- The project will explore the potential for large-scale dual-use agricultural land for solar electricity generation and crop production.
- SolAgra’s patented technology, SolAgra Farming, aims to improve crop quality while generating green energy.
- The collaboration will provide farmers with a new revenue stream from electricity sales and offer crop protection from extreme weather conditions.
SolAgra, a solar contractor, has entered into a contract with the University of Delaware (UDel) to build two agrivoltaic solar arrays. These arrays will be constructed at UDel campuses in Newark and Georgetown and are slated for launch in the 2024 growing season. The project aims to study the benefits of co-locating solar tracking systems with crop production.
The Research Focus
The test crops for this research will include high-value fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and strawberries. These crops are currently being affected by adverse climate change-related weather conditions. Faculty and students from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources will study the benefits of this dual-use system. At the same time, the College of Engineering and Institute of Energy Conversion will gather data on solar electricity generation.
A Common Solution for Energy and Food
Dr. Steven Hegedus, an Electrical and Computer Engineering professor at UDel, expressed excitement about the partnership. He said, “Two of the greatest challenges for the future are providing clean energy and food in a changing climate. Our research will show how they can support each other.” The project aims to supplement farmers’ income through electricity sales while protecting crops from extreme weather conditions like intense heat and rain.
SolAgra’s Patented Technology
SolAgra uses patented elevated solar arrays known as SolAgra Farming. This technology aims to produce green energy while simultaneously improving the quality of crops grown beneath the solar arrays. It also reduces irrigation water requirements and increases the efficiency of solar panels through microclimate cooling created by growing crops.
Benefits to Farmers
SolAgra pays farmers for using “air rights” above their farmland by sharing a portion of the power sales revenue. This arrangement replaces traditional land lease payments and protects farmers from excess sunlight, rain, and hail that could otherwise lead to significant crop damage and financial losses.