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Title: Conceptual Design and Rationale for a New Agrivoltaics Concept: Pastured-Raised Rabbits and Solar Farming

Abstract

Land-use conflicts created by the growth of solar photovoltaics (PV) can be mitigated by applying the concept of agrivoltaics, that is, the co-development of land for both PV and agricultural purposes, to commercial-scale solar installations. In this study, we present a conceptual design for a novel agrivoltaic system based on pasture-fed rabbit farming and provide the technical, environmental and economic analyses to demonstrate the viability of the concept. Included in our analysis are the economic advantages to the PV operator of grazing rabbits at a density sufficient to control vegetative growth, thus reducing the economic and environmental costs of mowing; the dual-revenue stream from the sale of both rabbits and electricity, contrasted with estimates of the capital-investment costs for rabbits co-located with, and also independent of, PV; and the economic value to the rabbit farmer of higher colony-growth rates (made possible by the shading and predator protection provided by the PV arrays and of reduced fencing costs, which are the largest capital cost, by being able to leverage the PV systems for rabbit fencing. We also provide an environmental analysis that suggests that rabbit-PV farming is a pathway to a measurable reduction in agriculturally-generated greenhouse-gas emissions. Here, our calculations indicatemore » that the co-location of solar and rabbit farms is a viable form of agrivoltaics, increasing overall site revenue by 2.5%-24.0% above projected electricity revenue depending on location and rental/ownership of rabbits, while providing a high-value agricultural product that, on a per weight basis, has significantly less environmental impact than cattle.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [1];  [1]; ORCiD logo [2];  [3];  [1]; ORCiD logo [4]
  1. Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI (United States)
  2. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
  3. The Coney Garth at the Pasturage, LLC, Montague, MI (United States)
  4. Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI (United States); Aalto University, Espoo (Finland)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Michigan Technological Univ., Houghton, MI (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Renewable Power Office. Solar Energy Technologies Office
OSTI Identifier:
1671316
Grant/Contract Number:  
EE0008990
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Cleaner Production
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Journal of Cleaner Production; Journal ID: ISSN 0959-6526
Publisher:
Elsevier
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; Agrivoltaics; rabbit farming; photovoltaics; land use; food-energy-water nexus; sustainable agriculture

Citation Formats

Lytle, William, Meyer, Theresa K., Tanikella, Nagendra G., Burnham, Laurie, Engel, Julie, Schelly, Chelsea, and Pearce, Joshua M. Conceptual Design and Rationale for a New Agrivoltaics Concept: Pastured-Raised Rabbits and Solar Farming. United States: N. p., 2020. Web. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.124476.
Lytle, William, Meyer, Theresa K., Tanikella, Nagendra G., Burnham, Laurie, Engel, Julie, Schelly, Chelsea, & Pearce, Joshua M. Conceptual Design and Rationale for a New Agrivoltaics Concept: Pastured-Raised Rabbits and Solar Farming. United States. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.124476.
Lytle, William, Meyer, Theresa K., Tanikella, Nagendra G., Burnham, Laurie, Engel, Julie, Schelly, Chelsea, and Pearce, Joshua M. Thu . "Conceptual Design and Rationale for a New Agrivoltaics Concept: Pastured-Raised Rabbits and Solar Farming". United States. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.124476.
@article{osti_1671316,
title = {Conceptual Design and Rationale for a New Agrivoltaics Concept: Pastured-Raised Rabbits and Solar Farming},
author = {Lytle, William and Meyer, Theresa K. and Tanikella, Nagendra G. and Burnham, Laurie and Engel, Julie and Schelly, Chelsea and Pearce, Joshua M.},
abstractNote = {Land-use conflicts created by the growth of solar photovoltaics (PV) can be mitigated by applying the concept of agrivoltaics, that is, the co-development of land for both PV and agricultural purposes, to commercial-scale solar installations. In this study, we present a conceptual design for a novel agrivoltaic system based on pasture-fed rabbit farming and provide the technical, environmental and economic analyses to demonstrate the viability of the concept. Included in our analysis are the economic advantages to the PV operator of grazing rabbits at a density sufficient to control vegetative growth, thus reducing the economic and environmental costs of mowing; the dual-revenue stream from the sale of both rabbits and electricity, contrasted with estimates of the capital-investment costs for rabbits co-located with, and also independent of, PV; and the economic value to the rabbit farmer of higher colony-growth rates (made possible by the shading and predator protection provided by the PV arrays and of reduced fencing costs, which are the largest capital cost, by being able to leverage the PV systems for rabbit fencing. We also provide an environmental analysis that suggests that rabbit-PV farming is a pathway to a measurable reduction in agriculturally-generated greenhouse-gas emissions. Here, our calculations indicate that the co-location of solar and rabbit farms is a viable form of agrivoltaics, increasing overall site revenue by 2.5%-24.0% above projected electricity revenue depending on location and rental/ownership of rabbits, while providing a high-value agricultural product that, on a per weight basis, has significantly less environmental impact than cattle.},
doi = {10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.124476},
journal = {Journal of Cleaner Production},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2020},
month = {10}
}

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