I’m sure you’ve seen solar panels on rooftops. Maybe you’ve even seen them mounted in backyards. You might even own one of those cool solar backpacks.
But where is the best place for solar panels? Where will they be most effective, produce the most power, and give the most energy return?
The answer might surprise you. According to a new Oregon State University research study, solar panels are most productive when placed on farmlands.
Specifically, the study found that if less than 1% of agricultural land was converted to solar panels, it would be sufficient to fulfill global electric energy demand.
It is a concept called agrovoltaics and it means of co-developing the same area of land for both solar photovoltaic power and conventional agriculture.
“Our results indicate that there’s a huge potential for solar and agriculture to work together to provide reliable energy,” explains Chad Higgins, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “There’s an old adage that agriculture can overproduce anything. That’s what we found in electricity, too. It turns out that 8,000 years ago, farmers found the best places to harvest solar energy on Earth.”
The implications of Higgins work are obviously enormous. Just imagine the solar arrays that could cover deserts, farmlands, and any agricultural area. If just 1% can fulfil global electric energy demand, just imagine what 10% could do.
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