The CSIC works on the creation of transparent solar panels to make energy generation and agriculture compatible
The Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) is leading a project to investigate how to reconcile the installation of photovoltaic fields and agricultural production.
The CSIC is the main public institution dedicated to research in Spain and one of the most important in Europe. Created in 1939, the CSIC aims to promote scientific and technical research and the development of knowledge in general.
This body announced this week that it will be part of the project called Sinatra, which focuses on the development of semi-transparent organic modules that are customized to provide optimal conditions for plant growth and electricity generation.
Researchers from the Barcelona Institute of Materials Science (ICMAB-CSIC) will study the optimal combination of materials for Agrivoltaics in each situation, while scientists from the Institute of Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMCP) will analyze the compatibility of these combinations with plant growth and the selection of crops compatible with this technology.
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Solar energy and agriculture
With conventional opaque technologies, Agrivoltaic application is achieved by partially covering the crop and leaving gaps between the panels.
However, the customization of semi-transparent organic panels to be used for specific Agrivoltaic applications tries to provide the optimal conditions for plant growth: controlled light intensity, light diffusion, and light composition (spectrum). Also homogeneous coverage of cultivation areas and mechanical protection against aggressive elements such as hail, wind, or rain.
Furthermore, organic materials allow for a semi-transparent technology in which the plant receives the part of the solar spectrum it needs to grow while a large part of the solar spectrum is used to generate electricity.
The Sinatra project is a very demanding initiative that involves everything from fundamental science to understanding how different spectra affect the growth of model plants to the fabrication and integration of demonstrators in agricultural environments.
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Objective: increase productivity
The Sinatra consortium is led by Eurecat (Centre Tecnològic de Catalunya) through its Functional Printing and Embedded Systems Unit and is made up of six partner organizations, including four research institutes (Barcelona Institute of Materials Science, Institute of Biology Cellular and Molecular Plants, Institute of Photonic Sciences, Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology), a technology center (Eurecat) and a spin-off SME (VITSOLC).
The Sinatra initiative will contribute to increasing agricultural productivity and improving the efficiency of land use reducing competition between energy and plant production.
In addition, it will help to accelerate the electrification and competitiveness of rural areas and to relocate and decarbonize energy generation through sustainable energy production, states the statement issued by the CSIC.