Poster Spotlight: An AgriSolar Alternative for Large-Scale Commodity Farming
Tuesday, September 12, 2023
11:20 AM – 11:30 AM PDT
Location: Speakers Corner, Booth #11024, Level 1, Venetian Expo Hall
Background, Description, Delivery and Learning Objective A self-ballasted pre-engineered solar farming module (SFM) was designed to power containerized ammonia plants so commodity farmers can make carbon-free fuel and fertilizer on-farm to revitalize their rural economies with price premiums earned from companies committed to reducing their Scope 3 GHG emissions. The solar farming module looks like a 50-foot-long trestle bridge with roofs of bifacial solar panels over a reflector as a roadway. Crews assemble these in two hours on the roadside from prefabricated parts before towing them to the field and cabling them together. Five galvanized steel tub girders, which arrive nested on flatbed trailers to minimize transportation volume and cost, comprise the self-ballasting chassis.
The ground-agnostic SFMs obviate surveys, geotechnical testing, foundations, fences, and moving parts. With a field of these, farmers generate energy year-round stockpiled as ammonia that they will use to fertilize crops, power tractors and semis outfitted with fuel cells or fuel-agnostic engines, and grain dryers. A one-megawatt solar farm with 60 SFMs on 3.5 acres, constructed in two weeks, will produce all the energy, fuel, and fertilizer required to operate a 1,000-acre conventional grain farm or a 2,000-acre regenerative farm.
By 2035, two of the largest grain majors must purchase the equivalent of over one billion bushels of carbon-free corn every year. There is no appreciable supply today. A carbon-free ecosystem is rapidly emerging. Two Canadian companies are taking orders for containerized ammonia plants today, and other companies have already demonstrated ammonia-powered tractors and semis.
No incumbent solar technology today is farmer friendly. With solar panels high above the ground and cabling running safely in the roof ridges, the SFMs do not need to be fenced. They can also coexist with cattle. There are no moving parts for a farmer to maintain. The solar farming modules will use heat from the increased backside production of the bifacial panels to melt snow.
After 30 years, crews can tow the SFMs back to the roadside to re-power them with new PV tables, dramatically lowering energy costs for the second generation. The self-ballasted chassis, fabricated from galvanized steel tub girders, has an expected life span of 60 to 100 years.
Poster viewers will learn how purposeful design, prefabrication, and distributed-scale solar can revitalize rural economies with carbon-free farming premiums. Poster viewers will learn of an alternative to popular agrivoltaic practices that rely on third-party solar developers and are limited to growing hand-picked specialty crops and sheep grazing. Viewers will understand how to eliminate the carbon footprint of commodity farming, which comprises 81% of US agricultural crop acres.
Poster viewers may also realize that the same ground-agnostic technology can be used on brownfields and for rapidly-assembled power plants serving areas suffering from a natural disaster.