Agrivoltaic systems are photovoltaic (PV) technologies in which PV panels are mounted at a sufficient height from the ground to enable conventional cultivation practices underneath. Agrivoltaic systems not only preserve agricultural land, but also benefit crop production by improving water use efficiency and reducing water stress. For these positive attributes, the interest over agrivoltaic systems is increasing, but the lack of a thorough environmental and economic analysis of agrivoltaic systems is limiting their implementation. This work aims to fill this gap by modelling the environmental and economic performances of an innovative agrivoltaic system built on tensile structures (Agrovoltaico®) in the Po Valley. The life cycle assessment performed shows that Agrovoltaico systems have environmental performances similar to those of other PV systems in all the areas of environmental concern investigated (climate change, eutrophication, air quality and resource consumption). Agrovoltaico systems show a Levelized Cost Of Electricity comparable to those of ground or roof mounted PV systems, thanks to both the higher productivity of these sun tracking systems and the materials saved by mounting them on a tensile structure. Relying on tensile structures was economically safe and compatible with the current Italian net-metering approach adopted to incentivise PV systems. It is concluded that the economic and environmental costs of Agrovoltaico systems are comparable to those of other PV systems, though the reduced impact on land occupation and the stabilisation of crop production are relevant added values that should be properly valorised in a future energy system dominated by increasing human land appropriation and climate change.
- Climate change
- Environmental impacts