5 Agrivoltaics Disadvantages Explained

Agrivoltaics disadvantages are; capital cost, technical requirements, limited applicability, developmental conditions, and relatively-low adoption.

This article discusses agrivoltaics disadvantages, as follows;






1). Capital Cost (as one of the Agrivoltaics Disadvantages)

Compared to ground-mounted solar photovoltaic systems, the capital cost of agrivoltaic systems is significantly high.

This high cost can be attributed to any of multiple factors, a notable example of which is the structural complexity of agrivoltaic systems, compared to conventional structures for mounting solar panels.

Efforts to make agrivoltaic equipment to be adaptable with good performance and energy efficiency, result in components and configurations that make them expensive.

Some studies suggest that agrivoltaics can be implemented without excessive economic strain, with estimated level cost of electricity (LCOE) of EUR 0.0243 per unit [5].

However, achieving such cost depends on several factors, and may not always be possible.

While the performance and energy conservation capabilities of agrivoltaics over their service life can compensate for the initial cost, many potential users of these systems are deterred by the size of capital required.





2). Technical Requirements

In order for agrivoltaics to be used effectively highly-diversified skill and knowledge beyond those for conventional agriculture, are required [1].

The skill and knowledge sets needed for effective agrivoltaic implementation span across multiple fields that include sustainable farming, renewable energy integration, energy storage, optimization and energy management.

Many conventional farmers are not equipped with such technical and intellectual resources, making them either unable to adopt, or effectively utilize agrivoltaic systems.

In cases where an agrivoltaic system is already available and being used, unavailability of adequate skill and knowledge can limit the analysis of performance, and optimization of the system [4].

Acquisition of the required expertise for operating agrivoltaic systems implies additional cost, which could be a disadvantageous factor.

Agrivoltaics Disadvantages: Technical Requirements (Credit: 10 10 2015 .CC BY 2.0.)
Agrivoltaics Disadvantages: Technical Requirements (Credit: 10 10 2015 .CC BY 2.0.)





3). Limited Applicability (as one of the Agrivoltaics Disadvantages)

While agrivoltaics offers an avenue for simultaneous electricity generation and sustainable farming, its effective implementation is only feasible under specific conditions.

Crops that work best with agrivoltaics are shade-tolerant and resilient species like; cherry tomatoes, jalapeños, lettuce, zucchini, eggplants and peppers, which require relatively minimal amount of solar energy for their metabolic activities and growth [4].

For these suitable crops, it is believed that agrivoltaic methods can even boost productivity [2].

Also, agrivoltaic applications are possible where the amount of available solar energy is sufficient to support both plant growth and electricity generation.

Land resource availability is another determinant factor for agrivoltaic implementation.

It is most recommendable to implement agrivoltaic technology where land resources are limited.

Other criteria that determine the suitability of agrivoltaics range from geographic and climatic to biogeochemical. These criteria limit the flexibility of the use of agrivoltaic systems.





4). Developmental Conditions

While it can be argued that agrivoltaics has notable market potential, the technology is also incipient and in its developmental stage.

There are multiple implications of this.

Agrivoltaic performance has not reached its full potential in terms of efficiency, resilience, and longevity among other metrics. Also, the design and cost of agrivoltaic systems are still challenging.

The full potential of agrivoltaic technology will only be actualized after it has undergone repetitive modification and testing for a significant length of time.





5). Relatively-low Adoption (as one of the Agrivoltaics Disadvantages)

The disadvantages of agrivoltaics in practical scenarios, pose a challenge toward their adoption, for most farmers [3].

Low adoption of agrivotaics can be ascribed to various factors that range from economic, sociological, geographic and technical.

Because it is not widely utilized, agrivoltaic technology experiences slow development and maturity in terms of improvement to design and performance, and subsidization of cost.






Agrivoltaics disadvantages are;

1. Capital Cost

2. Technical Requirements

3. Limited Applicability

4. Developmental Conditions

5. Relatively-low Adoption






1). Cheo, A. E.; Adelhardt, N.; Krieger, T.; Berneiser, J.; Santillano, F. A. S.; Bingwa, B.; Suleiman, N.; Thiele, P.; Royes, A.; Gudopp, D.; Sidibé, A. Y.; Fahmy, K.; Tambo, E. G.; Diallo, Y.; Sogoba, B. (2022).Agrivoltaics across the Water-Energy-Food-Nexus in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges for Rural Communities in Mali.” Available at: https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-1503422/v1. (Accessed 29 December 2022).

2). Hahn, J. (2022). “Agrivoltaic solar farms offer “shocking” benefits beyond producing energy.” Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2022/09/30/agrivoltaic-solar-farms-feature/. (Accessed 30 December 2022).

3). Pascaris, A.; Schelly, C.; Pearce, J. M. (2020). “A First Investigation of Agriculture Sector Perspectives on the Opportunities and Barriers for Agrivoltaics.” Agronomy 10(12):1885. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10121885. (Accessed 30 December 2022).

4). Toledo, C.; Scognamiglio, A. (2021). “Agrivoltaic Systems Design and Assessment: A Critical Review, and a Descriptive Model towards a Sustainable Landscape Vision (Three-Dimensional Agrivoltaic Patterns).” Sustainability 13(12):6871. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126871. (Accessed 29 December 2022).

5). Trommsdorff, M.; Vorast, M.; Durga, N.; Patwardhan, S. (2021). “Potential of agrivoltaics to contribute to socio-economic sustainability: A case study in Maharashtra/India.” AIP Conference Proceedings 2361(1):040001. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0054569. (Accessed 29 December 2022).

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