Knowns, uncertainties, and challenges in agrivoltaics to sustainably intensify energy and food production

Elsevier, Cell Reports Physical Science, Volume 4, 16 August 2023
Gomez-Casanovas N., Mwebaze P., Khanna M., Branham B., Time A., DeLucia E.H. et al.

Harnessing solar energy to renewably produce electricity can contribute to climate mitigation while meeting current energy demands. However, utility-scale photovoltaics are land intensive and can compete with food production. Agrivoltaics, which combines both energy and food production, has the potential to reduce competition for land. However, its benefits remain uncertain. Here, we review the literature to assess how agrivoltaics can provide synergistic benefits across the food-energy-water nexus relative to photovoltaic or agricultural systems in isolation. Overall, agrivoltaics has the potential to enhance the sustainability of agricultural land and the resilience of our food and energy systems while helping meet energy and food demands. However, there are obstacles to be surmounted. Interdisciplinary collaborative research actions to gain a holistic and mechanistic understanding of the ecological, environmental, and socio-economic consequences of agrivoltaics, and to realize how new innovations can unravel the potential of this emerging strategy, are urgently needed.