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Aug 2014

Combining Solar Farms and Actual Farms

11 August 2014 | Posted by Zachary

Solar power is a wonderful power option for many reasons. One of those reasons is that it can be placed practically anywhere power is needed. It can be placed on rooftops, on carports, on the ground, and even on planes. 2014 Zayed Future Energy Prize winner Abellon CleanEnergy is innovatively using it with agriculture, which is actually quite logical.

Abellon notes that solar power plants (aka “solar farms”) are often located in deserts or on unused land, but it is experimenting with a solar power plant that is co-located with agricultural activities. Here’s a bit more:

solar farm

"Abellon's solar project site also showcases a unique 'Solar Agri-Electric Model', combining harvesting of solar radiation on silicon wafers to produce energy and supporting the photosynthesis platform for agricultural activities. Traditional guidelines for location of solar energy generation sites propagate use of desertified land, to ensure no conflict between agriculture and energy generation. Abellon's model locates the solar site on agricultural land, and combines the strengths of solar energy generation with agricultural productivity, in the process proving that it is possible to get more value out of both in line with the principle of 'efficient resource management'."

Clearly, you cannot grow a lot of crops underneath the solar panels, and solar panels don’t need a lot of water in most places, but using land and water for two combined purposes is still efficient. This could be particularly useful in off-grid or rural locations.

This project is part of Abellon’s pilot solar power project.

"The company has set up pilot solar power project to harness the abundantly available solar radiation on the earth. The project is spread across 17.5 acres of land and utilizes multi crystalline silicon panels, with the capacity to power thousands of rural households. It has a potential of reducing 1 lakh tonnes of CO2 over 25 years vis-a-vis fossil fuels."

We will have to check back in once it is further along in order to get more info on Abellon’s findings.

Abellon’s key area of focus is bioenergy. However, its central aim is simply to bring energy to people without it in a sustainable way. As written on its website:

"Abellon's core purpose is to increase energy access globally in a sustainable manner.

"Energy access is a key driver to create economic growth and helps people emerge from poverty into the mainstream economy. This objective needs to be achieved in a manner that is environmentally and financially sustainable, promotes energy independence and is good for local communities. Abellon’s mission is to find innovative solutions achieving all these objectives by combining knowledge from diverse disciplines and aligning efforts with local stakeholders."

With the cost of solar power dropping so dramatically, I expect we’ll see Abellon incorporating it more and more into its product offerings.

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