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Combined land use of solar energy and agriculture (Agrivoltaics) for socioeconomic and environmental co-benefits
Abstract: Co-locating solar photovoltaics with vegetation (Agrivoltaics) could provide a sustainable solution to meeting growing food and energy demands. We studied the co-location of solar energy with crops/biofuels, grazing and/or pollinator-friendly native plants at multiple sites around the world, and explored the environmental and socio-economic co-benefits. The compounding effect of photovoltaic arrays and vegetation may homogenize soil moisture distribution and provide greater soil temperature buffer against extreme temperatures. Agrivoltaics on agricultural areas with carbon debt can be an effective climate mitigation strategy along with revitalizing agricultural soils, generating income streams from fallow land, and providing pollinator habitats. However, the benefits of vegetation cooling effects on electricity generation are rather site-specific and depend on the background climate and soil properties. Overall, our findings provide foundational data for site preservation along with targeting site-specific co-benefits, and for developing climate resilient and resource conserving agrivoltaic systems.
Bio: Sujith Ravi is a broadly trained environmental scientist interested in understanding the impacts of land use change and disturbances (natural and anthropogenic) on ecohydrological processes in terrestrial ecosystems. Dr. Ravi's research addresses the challenge of managing scarce soil and water resources in the context of multiple demands and multiple constraints associated with land use change and disturbances, the core challenge facing the future of world’s food security and environmental quality. Dr. Ravi received his PhD in Environmental Sciences (Hydrology) from the University of Virginia. Prior to joining Temple University, he was a postdoctoral fellow at The Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University. Dr. Ravi’s work has been recognized with a faculty early career award (NSF-CAREER) from the US National Science Foundation, the American Geophysical Union Editors Citation for Excellence in Refereeing, Distinguished Faculty Award for mentoring from Temple University, and Award for Excellence in Scholarship in the Sciences & Engineering from the University of Virginia. Dr. Ravi is currently serving as the Associate Editor of two major journals: Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface (American Geophysical Union) and Ecosphere (Ecological Society of America).
Joint RSS Environmental Stats Section (ESS) and TIES speaker
Hayley Fowler, Newcastle University