NREL's Agrivoltaics Research: Combining Solar Energy With Agriculture (Text Version)

This is the text version of the video NREL's Agrivoltaics Research: Combining Solar Energy With Agriculture.

The video cuts between people working in the gardens under and around solar panels at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and close-ups of the plants being grown.

Jordan Macknick, Lead Energy, Water, Land Analyst, National Renewable Energy Lab:
Everyone likes growing things. Everyone likes to see a garden. I've been blown away by how much interest there's been by staff and researchers across the entire lab. Here, we're exploring agrivoltaics, which is combining solar energy with agriculture. And agriculture can be vegetable production, it can be pollinator habitat, it can also be pasture grasses that can support animal grazing.

We are able to look at eight different types of crops as well as two different types of pollinator mixes and two different types of pasture grasses. And what we're trying to do is compare how different types of vegetation perform under the open sun and open air as well as how they perform underneath the partial shade of the solar panels.

So we have fruiting plants like tomatoes and peppers. We also have root crops like carrots. And then we have leafy greens as well as herbs like basil. In many cases, solar projects are built on agricultural lands, and you could have a lot of pushback from landowners or their surrounding communities who don't want to see prime agricultural land getting taken out of production.

Agrivoltaics really offers us the opportunity to continue agriculture production while also producing clean electricity. There's so much capability that the lab has and can contribute to this. And so being able to showcase this on campus, really, I think, will improve the science and improve the output that we can have.

Some of the produce will be going into the NREL Cafeteria, especially the leafy greens like the kale and the chard. Much of the other produce will be donated throughout the communities for areas that lack adequate food access in the Denver Metro area.

NREL–Transforming Energy logo appears on screen.