Photovoltaic agriculture emerges as effective approach to promote rural vitalization

(People's Daily Online) 13:44, December 29, 2021

As many as 2,300 villages in China have established photovoltaic (PV) farms under a PV agriculture project that aims to promote rural vitalization and reduce carbon emissions.

Farmers work in a photovoltaic farm in Qiongjie county, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. (Photo/xzxw.com)

According to Zhou Jianxin, director of the project under a technology company based in Beijing, the facilities installed at the farms have a total installed power generation capacity of 1.3 gigawatts and cover a total area of 24,000 mu (1,600 hectares). In addition to generating clean electricity, the PV project has guaranteed that those villagers engaged in the effort will be able to embrace seven consecutive years of bumper harvests for crops including rice, wheat and corn.

The photovoltaic project has adopted an intelligent monitoring and control system that can assess the environment for carrying out farming tasks, as well as an automatic irrigation and spraying system in addition to pest prevention and control devices. Dozens of patents for inventions have been filed during the course of the project both at home and abroad.

According to an assessment report conducted by the science and technology department of east China’s Jiangsu Province, the yield for rice planted during the photovoltaic agriculture project is at the same level as that generated by regularly planted rice.

“After years of development, China has significantly reduced the costs associated with the installing of PV facilities. However, land costs are still rising,” said Tang Yuan, former director of the Research Office of the State Council and a researcher with the China Association of Policy Science, at a seminar on the development of photovoltaic power technology held on Dec. 26.

An over-reliance on land resources for photovoltaic power generation has constrained the development of the photovoltaic industry in central and eastern regions of the country. Statistics show that a 10-megawatt solar power plant will occupy about 300 mu of land, which makes it difficult for the photovoltaic industry to develop in eastern areas where the land prices are higher.

To clear the bottleneck, relevant departments will prioritize the development of distributed photovoltaic projects and multi-scenario photovoltaic projects. Photovoltaic agriculture, which integrates PV power generation with multiple farming scenarios, has been recommended by industry insiders as an appropriate approach to expand the photovoltaic industry.

Photovoltaic farming can help boost agricultural production and increase farmers’ incomes without changing the existing farming patterns in areas such as the Yangtze River Delta region, the Pearl River Delta region, and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, said Wang Jin, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission. 

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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