Agrivoltaics: From Farm Fields to Rooftops

College of Agricultural Sciences

Horticulture and Landscape Architecture



(Delta, Denver, Kit Carson)

Primary Topic:

Food and Agriculture

Other Topics:

Natural Resources and Sustainability

Lead Mentor:  

Jennifer Bousselot

Assistant Professor

Internship Overview:

Co-locating the cultivation of food crops and solar panels allows farmers to garner benefits from two synergistic systems. Can we produce food and electricity on the same acre? Taking it further for urban areas by putting solar panels on a rooftop and farming underneath is called rooftop agrivoltaics. Agrivoltaic growing systems are still in their infancy and require further investigation to evaluate the feasibility of growers producing both crops and energy in the same space. One of the primary benefits of these systems is that solar panels shade (or partially shade) crops so that there is reduced temperature variability in the agricultural production system as compared to typical field conditions. Solar panel performance also improves because of the evaporative cooling that the plants provide.

Goals, Scope and Objectives:

Therefore, the intern on this project would assist a graduate student in screening horticultural crops for use in rooftop agrivoltaic systems. Additionally, the Extension aspect will include a project that describes the research subject, identifies applications, addresses costs and benefits, and reports current data by distributing the new information to stakeholders.

With which stakeholder group(s) will the intern work?

Extension, agriculture, horticulture, green roof, and solar industries. This intern will also interact with a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Physics since we are working with solar panels. Other CSU Departments that may interact with this project include the Agricultural Biology and Soil and Crop Sciences Departments.

What student learning outcomes do you anticipate and what are the opportunities for professional development?

The intern will gain hands-on experience in the agricultural and horticultural aspects of agrivoltaics. Additionally, the intern will interact with professionals and gain experience in the areas of Extension, agriculture, horticulture, green roofs, and solar industries. Therefore, the intern will not only learn about the scientific aspects of these areas but also network with diverse professionals and subject matter experts. The intern will travel to the Extension mentor locations. Extension activities will include learning from agricultural research and locally held field days. The intern will also learn about Extension information dissemination, which includes news releases, social media posts, field days, websites, newsletters, and crop clinics. Extension activities the intern will be involved in include on-farm agronomic testing sites located in northeast Colorado. This collaboration will also be beneficial to Extension as a training experience regarding agrivoltaic applications.
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