A Taiwanese energy developer is to introduce agrivoltaic facilities developed by Japan’s Solar Sharing Association to farms in Pingtung County, after the association shared its experience with the county’s Environmental Protection Bureau last week.
About 495 hectares of agricultural land in the county’s Linbian Township (林邊) have been designated as a special zone for promoting solar installations, as the land has seriously subsided and is no longer suitable for agricultural production.
However, some farmers said that they could not find farmland to rent due to encroaching energy projects.
Several farmers said they fear that they would be disqualified for farmers’ insurance if they rent out their land for energy installations, while others said they hope to keep their land even if it is barren.
It is possible for energy generation and agricultural production to coexist in agrivoltaic systems, association chief executive Atsushi Omura said during a trip to the county on Wednesday last week.
The idea behind agrivoltaic projects is to supply energy to greenhouses or net houses where farmers grow higher-priced crops, he said.
Instead of covering the entire surface of greenhouses with solar panels, farmers should leave gaps between them to give the panel array a fence-like appearance, Omura said.
Such an arrangement would allow the crops to absorb sufficient sunlight, while giving them some shade from the sun, he said, adding that farmers should select the structure that best meets their crops’ need for sunlight.
After inspecting the farmland in the county earlier this week, Taiwanese solar energy developer YSolar Co has decided to use the technique on a 5-hectare site for demonstration purposes.
Many landowners in regions with serious land subsidence lease their land to energy developers to install solar panels, but some land tracts are not suitable for such installations as they lack electricity transmission systems or their land classification needs to be changed, the company said.
With the association’s agrivoltaic structures, farmers would still be able to grow crops and meet their electricity needs without connecting to the power grid, it said.
Although such systems cost nearly NT$5 million (US$163,351) to cover 970m2, farmers could earn more income without losing their qualification for farmers’ insurance, and local agriculture could be boosted, it added.
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