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Agrivoltaics: Integrating Solar Energy Generation with Livestock Farming in the Canterbury Region of Aotearoa New Zealand

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posted on 2024-06-21, 03:55 authored by Anna Vaughan, Alan Brent, Megan Fitzgerald, Jasper Kueppers, Ellie Wright
Agrivoltaics is the integration of agriculture and solar energy production and seeks to find synergies between the two to create a complementary system. With increased interest in energy generation with utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Aotearoa New Zealand, agrivoltaics provides the opportunity to increase the productivity of land, contribute to the generation of renewable energy without displacing food production, and potentially optimize farming and environmental outcomes. Case study analyses were carried out on a dairy farm and a sheep and beef farm, both located in the Canterbury region. These considered both technical designs and financial analyses. The sheep and beef case study analysis indicated a significant opportunity for farmers to increase their profitability by incorporating agrivoltaics into their farming enterprise. This comes at a time of increased interest in complementary revenue streams due to reduced farmgate product prices, increased working expenses, and increased compliance costs and associated administrative workload. The financial analysis of agrivoltaics for the dairy farm case study suggested it was significantly less lucrative and indicates that incorporating solar generation on these farms might be best suited to non-productive areas or the installation of panels on shed roofs, rather than agrivoltaics. The study provides evidence that agrivoltaics is worthy of further consideration, particularly due to the way in which it offers solutions to some of the major challenges of standard utility-scale solar PV generation. It is evident that the significant gaps in literature need to be addressed to further understand what the potential financial, environmental and social impacts are for the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.


Funded by the New Zealand Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment's Our Land and Water National Science Challenge (Toitū te Whenua, Toiora te Wai) as part of project Rural Professionals Fund 2022–23


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