Agrivoltaics and Verti-Gro

Agrivoltaic energy, also known as agriphotovoltaics, consists of using the same area of land to obtain both solar energy and agricultural products. Here our Verti-Gro Hydroponic System is used in this system. Agrivoltaics is a relatively new concept whereby solar panels are used in conjunction with agriculture or horticulture. The ground underneath the array of solar panels is used to cultivate crops so that the crops are protected from harsh extremes of sunlight and the solar panels create electricity at the same time; thus two functions are achieved using the same piece of ground. It’s not advisable to allow large animals like sheep, cows and horses to graze underneath the panels as they tend to damage the panel structure, but food crops are ideal.

The solar panel structure must be high enough to permit the passage of rotovators for ground preparation and small tractors for crop spraying.

Now introduce a third concept; that of vertical growing. Verti-Gro comprises hydroponic pots in columns of 9 pots per column placed on top of a 10L bucket filled with gravel. The stacks are fed from the top and the nutrient water percolates its way down to the bottom bucket for recirculation using 8mm holes in each Verti-Gro pot.

Accommodating 36 plants per column the system averages 30 plants per m2 when walkways are subtracted from the total. This presents an enormous advantage in space saving as 6 times the number of plants can be grown in the system when compared to traditional soil based methods of agriculture. This means that one sixth of the land is used for production and therefore only one sixth of the number of expensive solar panels is required to achieve the same end. Three objectives are achieved by this symbiotic combination:

  1. Electricity generation from the solar panel array
  2. Protected food crops grown underneath the panels
  3. Enormous space and cost saving when using Verti-Gro.
  4. Fewer solar panels required per m2 of plants grown