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Volume 22, issue 2 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1285-1298, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-1285-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Feb 2018

Research article | 20 Feb 2018

Rain concentration and sheltering effect of solar panels on cultivated plots

Yassin Elamri1,2, Bruno Cheviron1, Annabelle Mange1, Cyril Dejean1, François Liron1, and Gilles Belaud3 Yassin Elamri et al.
  • 1UMR G-Eau, Irstea, Univ. Montpellier, 361 rue Jean-François Breton, 34136 Montpellier, France
  • 2Sun'R SAS, 41 quai Fulchiron, 69005 Lyon, France
  • 3UMR G-Eau, Montpellier SupAgro, Univ. Montpellier, 2 place Pierre Viala, 34060 Montpellier, France

Abstract. Agrivoltaism is the association of agricultural and photovoltaic energy production on the same land area, coping with the increasing pressure on land use and water resources while delivering clean and renewable energy. However, the solar panels located above the cultivated plots also have a seemingly yes unexplored effect on rain redistribution, sheltering large parts of the plot but redirecting concentrated fluxes on a few locations. The spatial heterogeneity in water amounts observed on the ground is high in the general case; its dynamical patterns are directly attributable to the mobile panels through their geometrical characteristics (dimensions, height, coverage percentage) and the strategies selected to rotate them around their support tube. A coefficient of variation is used to measure this spatial heterogeneity and to compare it with the coefficient of uniformity that classically describes the efficiency of irrigation systems. A rain redistribution model (AVrain) was derived from literature elements and theoretical grounds and then validated from experiments in both field and controlled conditions. AVrain simulates the effective rain amounts on the plot from a few forcing data (rainfall, wind velocity and direction) and thus allows real-time strategies that consist in operating the panels so as to limit the rain interception mainly responsible for the spatial heterogeneities. Such avoidance strategies resulted in a sharp decrease in the coefficient of variation, e.g. 0.22 vs. 2.13 for panels held flat during one of the monitored rain events, which is a fairly good uniformity score for irrigation specialists. Finally, the water amounts predicted by AVrain were used as inputs to Hydrus-2D for a brief exploratory study on the impact of the presence of solar panels on rain redistribution at shallow depths within soils: similar, more diffuse patterns were simulated and were coherent with field measurements.

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Agrivoltaism is the association of agricultural and photovoltaic energy production on the same land area, coping with the increasing pressure on land use and water resources while delivering clean and renewable energy. This paper shows how to operate the tilting-angle solar panels tested above the cultivated plots to remedy the often unexplored rain redistribution issues, by which large parts of the plot are sheltered, whereas concentrated fluxes are redirected on a few locations.
Agrivoltaism is the association of agricultural and photovoltaic energy production on the same...
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