Potential of Agrivoltaics to Contribute to Socio-Economic Sustainability: A Case Study in Maharashtra / India
In the ongoing energy transition in India, ground mounted photovoltaic (GM-PV) plays a crucial role which becomes evident when looking at both governmental PV targets and recent developments. Despite cost-effectiveness speaking in favor of GM-PV, generally, a major drawback of GM-PV is the high land usage. One possibility to overcome conflicting interests of land use is agrivoltaics - a combined land-use for food and electricity production. This paper summarizes the findings of a feasibility study on a 50 MWp agrivoltaic project in Maharashtra conducted by Fraunhofer ISE in 2018/2019 focusing on social impact and economic viability. The analyses indicate that an agrivoltaic system appears economically feasible with expected levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of INR 2.02 (EUR 0.0243) already including cost on water management, rainwater harvesting, water storage, and irrigation. Depending on the institutional arrangement between the farming community and the investor, the social impact is expected to vary from high benefits to risk of severe poverty among affected farmers. Further findings indicate that the use of bifacial glass-glass PV modules raises electrical yield by 6.4% compared to mono facial modules. Regarding land use, the study suggests that the analyzed agrivoltaic system is likely to almost double average land use efficiency measured by the combined output of electricity and agriculture per unit of land (+94%).