Agrivoltaics: Combining Agriculture and Solar Power

Agrivoltaics, also known as agrophotovoltaics, is the practice of co-locating solar panels with crops or livestock on farms, ranches, and other agricultural land.

The concept of agrivoltaics dates back to the early 1980s, when researchers in Germany first investigated the potential benefits of integrating photovoltaic (PV) systems with agricultural land use. The idea has since gained traction, and agrivoltaic systems are now being implemented in various parts of the world. According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), there were more than 3,500 agrivoltaic systems globally in 2021, with a total installed capacity of approximately 2.9 GW.

The benefits of agrivoltaics are numerous. By co-locating solar panels with crops, farmers can increase their land-use efficiency, reduce water usage, and improve crop yields. The shade provided by the solar panels also helps to mitigate heat stress on crops during hot summer months, which can reduce crop losses and improve the quality of the produce. Moreover, agrivoltaic systems can provide an additional source of income for farmers, as they can sell the excess solar energy generated back to the grid or use it for on-farm operations.

One example of an agrivoltaic system in action is the Horticulture Solar Power Project in Japan, which was developed by Kyocera Corporation in collaboration with local farmers. The project involves installing PV modules on a 25-hectare agricultural site, where a variety of crops are grown, including tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplants. The system has been in operation since 2013 and has demonstrated a 30% increase in crop yields compared to conventional farming methods, as well as a 15% reduction in water usage.

Another example of agrivoltaics being used in the real world is the Fraunhofer Institute’s “Solar Harvest” project in Germany. The project involves integrating PV systems with vineyards to create a dual-use system that maximizes land-use efficiency. The solar panels are mounted on elevated structures above the grapevines, providing shade and reducing heat stress on the plants. The system has been shown to increase grape yields by up to 25% and reduce water usage by up to 40%.

Agrivoltaics have also been implemented in India, where the lack of available land for solar installations has led to the development of floating solar PV systems on agricultural reservoirs. The systems not only generate renewable energy but also help to reduce water evaporation and improve water quality for irrigation.

Several studies have also demonstrated the effectiveness of agrivoltaics. A study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that co-locating solar panels with crops can increase land-use efficiency by up to 60%, and reduce water usage by up to 75%. Another study by the University of Arizona found that agrivoltaic systems can increase crop yields by up to 73%, depending on the type of crop and the design of the system.

The cost of implementing agrivoltaic systems can be higher than traditional farming methods, and the design of the system must be carefully planned to avoid shading the crops too much or damaging the solar panels. Additionally, the management of the dual-use system can be more complex, requiring specialized knowledge and skills.

Agrivoltaics offer a promising solution to the challenges of increasing demand for food and energy. By combining agriculture and solar power, farmers can increase their land-use efficiency, reduce water usage, improve crop yields, and generate renewable energy. While there are challenges associated with implementing agrivoltaic systems, the potential benefits make it a worthwhile investment for the future of sustainable agriculture. As the technology and knowledge around agrivoltaics continue to evolve, it is likely that we will see more widespread adoption of this innovative approach to land use.

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Solar feed-in tariffs in Australia: a guide

Solar feed-in tariffs are incentives offered to encourage households and businesses to generate renewable energy through solar panels. These tariffs are paid to solar panel owners for the excess electricity they generate and export back to the grid. Each state in Australia has its own solar feed-in tariff scheme, which varies in terms of eligibility criteria, rates, and payment mechanisms. In this article, we will explore the different solar feed-in tariffs across states and territories in Australia.

New South Wales (NSW)

In NSW, the solar feed-in tariff is determined by electricity retailers and is not set by the state government. The rate varies between retailers and can range from 5 cents to 20 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). However, as of January 2022, the NSW government introduced a new Solar for Business Program that provides financial assistance to small and medium-sized businesses for installing solar panels. Under this program, eligible businesses can receive a solar feed-in tariff of up to 14 cents per kWh for excess energy exported to the grid. (source:


In Victoria, the solar feed-in tariff rate is determined by the state government and is set at a minimum of 10.2 cents per kWh for residential solar systems. The rate is reviewed annually and may change depending on market conditions. In addition to the feed-in tariff, the Victorian government also offers a Solar Homes Program that provides rebates and interest-free loans for households to install solar panels. (source:


In Queensland, the solar feed-in tariff rate is also determined by the state government and is set at a minimum of 7.842 cents per kWh for systems up to 30kW in size. However, the rate can vary depending on the electricity retailer and the size of the solar system. The Queensland government also offers a Solar Bonus Scheme that provides a feed-in tariff of 44 cents per kWh for households that installed solar panels before July 2012. (source:

South Australia

In South Australia, the solar feed-in tariff is determined by the state government and is set at a minimum of 10.1 cents per kWh for residential systems. However, some electricity retailers may offer higher rates. The South Australian government also offers a Home Battery Scheme that provides subsidies for households to install battery storage systems to complement their solar panels. (source:

Western Australia

In Western Australia, the solar feed-in tariff is also determined by electricity retailers and can vary between 7 cents to 10 cents per kWh. However, the state government has announced that it will introduce a voluntary buyback scheme for excess solar energy generated by households. The scheme is expected to commence in mid-2023 and will pay a fixed rate of 10 cents per kWh. (source:


In Tasmania, the solar feed-in tariff is determined by electricity retailers and can range from 5 cents to 12 cents per kWh. However, as of January 2022, the Tasmanian government has introduced a Solar for Business Program that provides financial assistance to small and medium-sized businesses for installing solar panels. Under this program, eligible businesses can receive a solar feed-in tariff of up to 12 cents per kWh for excess energy exported to the grid.

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, the solar feed-in tariff is also determined by electricity retailers and can vary between 8 cents to 22 cents per kWh. However, the Northern Territory government does not have any specific solar incentive schemes for households or businesses.

In conclusion, the solar feed-in tariff schemes across states and territories in Australia vary in terms of rates, eligibility criteria, and payment mechanisms. While some states have government-mandated minimum rates, others rely on electricity retailers to determine the rate. It is important for households and businesses to research and compare different solar feed-in tariff schemes before deciding to install solar panels to maximize the benefits of generating renewable energy.


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Frameless Solar Panels released by Maxeon

Maxeon Solar Technologies has released its new Maxeon Air technology platform which includes frameless solar panels for rooftop use.

About the Maxeon frameless solar panels

The Maxeon Air frameless solar panel systems are 50% lighter than conventional panels – they’re also completely free of aluminum framing, glass, racking, ballast or anchors. Think peel and stick – this is going to have a massive difference for premises who have uneven roofs or roofs previously unsuitable for conventional solar panel installation. It’ll at least be a whole lot easier than installing panels on strangely curved and shaped roofs (any installer will know what I’m talking about!). According to the Maxeon Air website, the frameless solar panels have been created over five years of research, development and testing.

With more than 3.5 billion cells installed on 7 continents, it’s pretty fair to say Maxeon solar cells have been rigorously tested in labs and proven in the field. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of warranty is involved in these solar panels, and how they work in terms of installation – which has promised to be much simpler than it is right now.

Maxeon refer to the panels as having an innovative peel-and-stick adhesive that requires no rooftop membrane penetrations, noting that this will minimise business disruption for customers, so it could be a fantastic panel to use if you’re looking for commercial solar panel installation.

A sales pitch from their website reveals how far ahead of the curve Maxeon are in terms of solar panel technology – their yield in partial shade and high temperatures is “unrivaled”, and they provide the highest efficiency and reliability in silicon solar (Caveats: Maxeon Air 330 W (Ground Coverage Ratio GCR of 0.9) compared to Conventional Single Tilt system (GCR of 0.65) with Conventional Panel (380W mono PERC, 19% efficient, approx. 2 m²). System loads on roof calculated with a GCR of 0.9.).

Maxeon have advised that the panels will be ready for sale in Q1 of next year. Can’t wait to look at some installs and see if the stats they’ve given stack up. I doubt they’ll come cheap, but that’s alright if the value proposition is there. Watch this space!


Maxeon Air Frameless Solar Panel
Maxeon Air Frameless Solar Panel (source: Maxeon)

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Vecco Group: $25m for Australia’s first vanadium battery plant.

Queensland-based Vecco Group will spend up to $25 million building Australia’s first vanadium battery plant in Brisbane.

Vecco Group and Australia’s first vanadium battery plant

According to InQueensland, Vecco Group have come to an agreement with China’s Shanghai Electric – one of the largest electrical equipment manufacturing companies in China – for an initial purchase of vanadium electrolytes (Confused about flow batteries? Click here to learn how a Vanadium Redox Battery works)

Thomas Northcott, Managing Director of Vecco Group said, “this is a significant step forward for Vecco in securing an integrated supply chain from our Debella Vanadium + HPA Project through to battery production.”

“We are excited to be capturing the first mover advantage in Australia and south east Asia for what is a rapidly growing market for large scale renewable energy storage.” Northcott continued in a press release from Vecco Group.

“Demand is currently strong and there is significant future demand supplying large long duration vanadium batteries to support green hydrogen projects around Australia.”

Vecco is also carrying out a pre-IPO to raise $5 million and is aiming at a full IPO next year.

As we continue with advancements in solar battery technology, it’s fantastic to see alternative options to lithium-ion – the flow batteries such as Redflow are awfully heavy but they have a great use case if the technology can continue improving at this rate. With that said, vanadium batteries have been proposed as early as the 1930’s and have been in production since the 1980’s, so they probably have some ground to make up.

Vecco Group Flow Battery example by Colintheone –, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The vanadium industry

The vanadium industry has progressed significantly in 2021 with multiple announcements, including one from from mining billionaire Robert Friedland’s company VRB Energy. VRB announced a 500MWh vanadium flow battery in March. Gigafactory in China and Sir Mick Davis, the ex-CEO of Xstrata are also invested in Kazakhstan based vanadium company Ferro-Alloy Resources.

Vanadium flow batteries last for 25 years, suffer no capacity degradation and a low environmental footprint, as the electrolyte is almost 100% recyclable.

Other companies working in the space include UniEnergy Technologies, StorEn Technologies, and Ashlawn Energy in the United States; Renewable Energy Dynamics Technology and VoltStorage in Europe; Prudent Energy in China;Australian Vanadium in Australia.


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4 Main Types Of Batteries For Solar Storage


When choosing a solar battery, there are various essential things to consider such as the battery’s lifespan, cost, how much power each battery can provide etc. There are multiple models of batteries which can store solar energy, all with advantages and disadvantages. The best ones for storage applications are recognized as the safest to use by the NEC 2020.  

Here below are the most trusted batteries currently available in the market for solar storage purposes.

Nickel Based Battery

Nickel-based batteries are used on a large scale for energy storage purposes because their characters perform well in all kinds of temperatures. Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) is the most common technique used.  Nickel-based batteries have been used in large-scale energy storage projects as they perform well in all types of temperatures. Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) is the most common Nickel-based battery technology used with the lowest cost than the other batteries. They are more appropriate for off-framework establishment as they have a dependable reinforcement framework and don’t need regular maintenance, yet the absence of support will lessen their cycle checks. They don’t require ventilation or cooling and have a long life cycle. They are available in a wide range of sizes and performances and even can be stored in a discharged state because of their long shelf life. Moreover, Cadmium used in these batteries is a toxic metal that makes the battery types less user-friendly and leads to lead-acid batteries.

Lead Acid

Lead batteries are renowned for decades. Either they are the bulky ones but are still rapidly being eclipsed by other technologies with more extended guarantees or lower prices as solar battery storage becomes more popular. They have a low self-discharge rate among the presented rechargeable batteries. They have the specific power and are well capable of the high discharge of current among many others, but it charges slowly (14+ hours) among the others and has a low specific energy. The lead batteries are not so eco-friendly, and in case if they are not discarded properly, they can contaminate the environment. That can result in a threat to human health and nature as they contain sulfuric acid and lead that are dangerous elements. So that’s why these batteries are heavy because of their materials. 


The lithium ions are gathering more repute after evolving electric car industry development both in technology and cost. There are two kinds of lithium-ion batteries that exist and are used for large-scale solar battery storage applications: Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO) is a fast charging but can only enter the C&I market. The Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) is high energy-specific and stable but relatively new. Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) has a long life cycle with no requirements for ventilation or cooling. At the same time, these batteries have high energy thickness and a somewhat low self-release. They don’t require delayed preparation when new, and one charge is adequate. Lithium-particle batteries are overall poor support, and an occasional release isn’t needed. Anyway, the vast majority of them are still similarly costly to fabricate and are liable to maturing, even while not being utilized and transportation limitations. They likewise require an insurance circuit to keep up voltage and current inside limits.


They are the new entrants to the battery storage technology family, and even the technology has been used for years. They are known as flow batteries because of the water-based solution of zinc-bromide inside them. They have more prominent plan adaptability, permitting more blend between capacity limit and force yield limit. These Redox flow batteries (RFB) have high flexible energy storage technology and low energy density and less expensive. The Hybrid flow battery has a high storage technology with common charge and discharge rates and less costly. Rather than adding more batteries to a storage system to build its ability, stream batteries need more electrolyte fluid. This electrolyte can be recharged whenever without intruding on power yield. The electrochemical cell can convey power as long as the electrolyte arrangement is accessible.

Wrapping Up!

Settling on the battery innovation will affect the entire power system use and life span. As we have seen, lead-acid batteries are more dependable and have been utilized for quite a long time. Yet, they are not as adaptable or practical as the other batteries appeared previously. It is unquestionably challenging to pick battery storage or the correct EMS that will work with it. After selecting the battery type, one needs to appropriately estimate their battery fleet and track down a viable EMS for choosing a battery based on your demand. 

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