Many farms and agricultural businesses are looking forward to solar to power their daily operations. Lately, the cost of going solar has declined significantly, which has enabled more installations across the country. If you are also thinking about agricultural solar installation, then you must consider these questions so as to determine what’s best for you and your farm.
Do agricultural solar installation contaminate the soil underneath?
The most widespread solar photovoltaic technology used these days, includes the silicon-based PV cells. Most of the solar panels have a glass front which protects] the PV cell and an steel or aluminium frame. According to the latest research, leaching of trace metals from modules is less likely to present a risk due to the sealed nature of the installed cells.
But some solar modules use cadmium telluride (CdTe) and cadmium compounds are toxic. As per studies, such compounds cannot be emitted from CdTe modules during normal operation or even during fires. Industrial ignition temperatures, which are much higher than grassfires, are required to release the compounds from the modules.
Does solar modules change the microclimate underneath the modules?
Are you are worried about if solar modules can worsen invasive species, fungal, nematode or other pest problems underneath? According to some studies on microclimate effects under solar modules, there is little to no average impact.
During the day, air temperatures tend to be cooler under the panels and warmer at night. Also, air temperature, crop temperature and humidity under the modules is similar to conditions of full sun. So far, there have been no studies that link solar development with pest problems, but studies have shown how native plants can thrive underneath solar installations.
Do agricultural solar installation heat up and dry out vegetation under the modules?
Agricultural solar modules actually cool the vegetation underneath during the day due to shading, and keep them warmer at night. As per researchers, these temperature differences cancel out, which means daily crop temperatures are similar under modules compared to full sun crops and there is no impact on crop growth rates.
Modules provide the ability to farmers to grow shade-tolerant crops and diversify crop selection, while extending growing seasons and reducing water requirements.
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