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Agrivoltaics: Integrating Solar Energy Generation with Livestock Farming in Canterbury

June 2023

With increased interest in energy generation of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Aotearoa New Zealand, agrivoltaics provides the opportunity to increase the productivity of land, contribute to the generation of renewable energy without displacing food production, and potentially optimise farming and environmental outcomes.

A significant area of Canterbury is classified as suitable for agrivoltaics and innovations in solar array designs and configurations are developing rapidly. Case study analyses were carried out on a dairy farm and a sheep and beef farm, both in Canterbury:

  • The sheep and beef case study analysis indicated a significant opportunity for sheep and beef farmers to increase their profitability by incorporating agrivoltaics into their farming enterprise.
  • The dairy farm case study suggested it was significantly less lucrative and indicates that incorporation of solar generation on dairy farms might be best suited to non-productive areas and/or the installation of panels on shed roofs, rather than agrivoltaics.

The study provides evidence that agrivoltaics is worthy of further consideration, particularly due to the way in which it offers solutions to some of the major challenges of standard utility-scale solar electricity generation. It is evident that the significant gaps in literature need to be addressed to further understand what the potential financial, environmental and social impacts are for the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Rural Professionals Fund final report, 2023

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