IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


2nd July, 2024 Agriculture


Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.


  • Agrovoltaics are a sustainable solution to India's solar energy land-use challenges.
  • Integrating agriculture with solar power can enhance land productivity and alleviate farm distress.

Solar Power in India

  • Global Ranking and Capacity: India ranks 5th globally in installed solar power capacity with 84 GW, standing as the 3rd largest solar power generator.
  • 2030 Renewable Goals: India targets 500 GW of renewable capacity by 2030, with solar aiming for nearly 280 GW, necessitating 75,000 square kilometers of land.

Challenges with Current Solar Installations

  • Land Intensive Installations: 81% of India’s solar capacity is from ground-mounted installations requiring 3-5 acres per megawatt.
  • Land Acquisition Issues: Large-scale land acquisition for solar projects faces challenges due to competing land-use demands and community conflicts.

Regional Concentration and Grid Challenges

  • State Concentration: Six states in western and southern India generate 78% of the nation’s solar energy.
  • Grid Congestion: Concentration leads to power grid congestion and integration issues, impacting energy supply stability.
  • Infrastructure Challenges: Remote rural locations of solar farms complicate power evacuation, requiring extensive distribution infrastructure.

Innovations and Solutions

  • New Business Models: Innovative approaches needed to address land acquisition challenges and improve long-distance power transmission efficiency.
  • Agrivoltaics (Agro-PV): Integration of solar energy with agriculture through mini-grid systems like agrivoltaics optimizes land use, reduces transmission distances, and enhances local energy production efficiency.


  • Agrivoltaics, also known as agrophotovoltaics or dual-use solar, refers to the innovative practice of concurrently using land for both agricultural purposes and solar energy production.
  • Initially conceptualized by Adolf Goetzberger and Armin Zastrow in 1981, this approach integrates various agricultural activities such as crop cultivation, livestock grazing, greenhouse farming, and pollinator support with photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Definition and Implementation:

  • Agrivoltaics employs multiple techniques to harmonize agriculture with solar energy generation, leveraging shared sunlight. This dual-use strategy necessitates strategic system designs that balance objectives like maximizing crop yield, maintaining crop quality, and optimizing energy production efficiency.
  • Examples include mounting solar panels above crops or livestock, integrating PV systems with greenhouses, or utilizing vertical PV installations.

System Designs:

  • Interleaved Arrays and Crops: Solar panels interspersed with agricultural crops to optimize light transmission.
  • Elevated Arrays: Solar arrays elevated above crops or livestock to facilitate farm operations.
  • Greenhouses: PV panels integrated into greenhouse roofs to generate electricity while allowing sunlight for plant growth.


  • Land Use Efficiency: Reduces competition for land between agriculture and solar farms, potentially increasing land productivity.
  • Environmental Impact: Mitigates greenhouse gas emissions, conserves water through reduced evaporation, and moderates microclimates to enhance crop yields.
  • Economic Opportunities: Diversifies income for farmers, lowers energy costs, and enhances community acceptance of renewable energy projects.


  • Crop-Solar Trade-offs: Balancing optimal sunlight exposure for crops with PV panel placement.
  • Technological Complexity: Requires specialized knowledge and infrastructure for installation and maintenance.
  • Economic Viability: Initial high costs and regulatory challenges in some regions may hinder widespread adoption.

Global Adoption and Future Prospects:

  • Initially pioneered in Europe and Asia, agrivoltaics is gaining traction globally as a sustainable solution for energy and food production integration.
  • Ongoing research and development aim to optimize system designs, improve economic feasibility, and expand regulatory support to foster broader implementation.
  • Agrivoltaics represents a promising convergence of agriculture and renewable energy, addressing land use challenges while promoting sustainable development and resilience in agricultural practices.

Relevance in India

  • Agrivoltaics Integration: Combining agriculture with solar energy production by installing panels on current and fallow agricultural land.
  • Dual Land-Use Benefits: Provides a sustainable solution to land scarcity and acquisition issues for solar energy.
  • Localized Transmission and Distribution: Enhances local energy distribution and transmission, reducing infrastructure costs.

Economic and Environmental Benefits

  • Improved Land Productivity: Increases land productivity by 35-73%, benefiting agriculture alongside solar energy generation.
  • Indirect Benefits: Provides reliable power, supports agro-processing businesses, and generates rural employment.
  • Economic Buffer: Income from agrivoltaics buffers against financial distress in India's agricultural sector.

Technical Advantages

  • Optimal Panel Placement: Solar panels mounted 2-3 meters above ground allow for crop cultivation beneath or between panels.
  • Microclimate Benefits: Protects crops, reduces soil moisture evaporation, and enhances solar panel efficiency by 2-6 degrees Celsius, extending lifespan.

Environmental and Climate Resilience

  • Economic and Environmental Synergy: Assured revenue from electricity sales or self-powering reduces reliance on emission-intensive energy sources.
  • Climate Change Mitigation: Mitigates risks from climate change impacts such as heat waves, droughts, and reduced precipitation, ensuring more stable agricultural yields.

Agrivoltaics in India not only addresses land scarcity and acquisition challenges but also promotes sustainable development by integrating renewable energy generation with agricultural practices, fostering economic resilience and environmental sustainability.

Agro-PV Applications with Various Crops

  • Versatile Crop Combinations: Agro-PV installations support both food and non-food crops, combining crops like rice, millets, oil-seeds with energy generation.
  • Benefits in Horticultural Crops: Significant advantages are observed in horticultural crops such as leafy greens, root vegetables, legumes, and herbs.
  • Microclimate Benefits: Panels provide shading and shelter, lowering ground temperature, reducing water losses, and increasing productivity.
  • Increased Crop Yields: Examples include:
    • Tomato yield increases by 11%
    • Lettuce yield increases by 38%
    • Cotton yield rises by 33%, leading to up to 142% net income increase.
  • Profitability and Yield Stability: Increased land productivity can compensate for reduced yields, making combined systems profitable even with 10-30% yield reduction. Combined income during low yields can be 30-50% higher.

Integration with India's Agricultural Sector

  • Horticulture Production: India produced 320.48 million tonnes of horticultural produce in 2023.
  • Reduction of Food Waste: Nearly 40% of horticultural produce is wasted, highlighting the need for cold storage infrastructure development.
  • Promotion of Cold Storage Facilities: Energy from agro-PV systems can support the development of cold storage facilities, starting from the farm itself.
  • Reduction in Losses: This approach significantly reduces farm-produce and energy losses, enhancing food security and economic stability in the agricultural sector.

By integrating agro-PV systems with various crops, India can enhance agricultural productivity, reduce food waste, and promote sustainable energy use, contributing to both economic growth and environmental sustainability.

Agricultural benefits

Diversified income stream and additional revenue. Protection against financial distress in case of crop failure, etc.

Reduction in soil erosion and land degradation from enhanced soil moisture.

Increased yield for both food and non-food crops, like cotton, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

Provides habitat for pollinators and other insects, besides improving water efficiency.

Energy benefits

Gains in PV efficiency due to decrease in micro-climatic temperature and enhanced lifespans of PV modules.

Decreased land-use intensity and reduction in emissions from land-use change associated with agriculture

Easier to procure land lease permits from agricultural land than for solar plants especially for co-generation.

Promotes rural electrification and livelihood generation

Way forward

  • Collaborative Efforts: Integrating renewable resources with existing land-based resources requires collaboration among stakeholders. Farmer producer organisations and self-help groups can pool resources to reduce initial costs and promote adoption.
  • Capacity Building: Institutionalising capacity-building programmes is essential for the effective operational management of agrivoltaic systems. This includes training in maintenance, crop management under panels, and technical support.
  • Establishing Guidelines: Developing comprehensive guidelines is crucial to assess agrovoltaic feasibility. Addressing technical specifications, land-use policies, and promoting beneficial cropping practices will ensure sustainable implementation.
  • PM-KUSUM Scheme: Leveraging the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) Scheme to incentivise local distribution companies (discoms) for Agro-PV installations is crucial. Component A of the scheme can be particularly targeted in high-demand agricultural states to support energy generation while enhancing agricultural productivity.

By implementing these strategies, India can accelerate the adoption of agrivoltaics, promote sustainable agriculture, and achieve its renewable energy targets effectively while addressing agricultural and energy sector challenges.


Q. Explain the concept of Agrovoltaics (Agro-PV) and discuss its potential as a sustainable solution for integrating agriculture with renewable energy production in India. Highlight the benefits, challenges, and policy interventions necessary to promote its adoption and impact on agricultural productivity.