The project is intended to evaluate the potential economic impact and the viability of agricultural and solar farms by sharing the same plot of land with lower levels of sunlight in the region.

Carried out by the university’s Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science (IR3S), the project is expected to help farmers earn additional income by generating electricity.

The business model involves installation of solar panels high above the crops and spaced further apart than usual. This would allow sufficient sunlight to pass through and farmers to work below.

For the project, Solar Frontier supplied its lightweight Solacis neo CIS solar panels which were installed 2m above the newly planted broccoli. This will be followed by a range of seasonal vegetables throughout the year.

The modules have been installed at a low inclination angle of 13.5 degrees and are expected to generate approximately 11,000kWh annually.

Solar Frontier said that the experiment will provide data on light-shielding rates and crop yield for the Washizaki district.

The firm will work with industry, academia and government to promote distributed energy generation initiatives using its CIS thin-film modules.

Image: Solar Frontier’s CIS solar panels installed over newly planted broccoli. Photo: courtesy of Solar Frontier.