Power from stand-alone, off-grid solar installations can pump your wells and cattle tanks, irrigate your crops, water your livestock, and ventilate your outlying buildings for far less than the high cost of running power lines all the way from the nearest power grid connection.
In addition to the usual 30% tax credits and refunds, your working farm’s solar installation can qualify you for $2,500 to $500,000 in USDA REAP program subsidies.
But when you have plants growing beneath your solar panels, they can make your farm more profitable in unexpected ways:
The combination of solar panels overhead and crops growing below creates a shaded microclimate – one that retains the water vapor that the crops transpire. This can cut transpirational water loss by as much as 65% and let each irrigation support plant growth for days at a time instead of just hours.
This microclimate also lengthens growing seasons, producing better crop yields. University of Arizona researchers say that growing crops in the shade of solar panels can double or triple yields. In South Korea, famers planting broccoli beneath solar panels got larger, greener plants and about 10 times the income.
The Panasonic and REC solar panels we install* stand up to high winds, rain- and hailstorms, protecting the crops beneath.
You can grow high-value crops under solar panels anything from jalapenos, cherry tomatoes, and exotic mushrooms to broccoli, cabbages, onions, potatoes, carrots, or soft fruit.
All solar panels generate less electricity when the weather gets too hot or too cold – even Panasonic and REC modules, which are among the world’s most powerful and most resistant to high or low temperature efficiency loss. The microclimate that plants growing under a solar installation create is cooler under the hot sun and warmer at night. That keeps the solar panels at peak output and efficiency.
*Milestone Solar has earned selection as an REC Certified Solar Professional Installer and West Virginia’s only Panasonic Authorized Solar Installer.