Solar energy enhancing agricultural productivity
Solar energy is “Solar energy is the conversion of sunlight into useful energy forms,” according to its definition. Photovoltaics (PV), solar thermal electricity, and solar heating and cooling are the three main solar technologies. Solar energy is an essential energy source for agricultural production and processing, especially for irrigation, cooling, and drying.
For the improvement of grid power, granting energy access, lowering the consumption of fossil fuels, and assisting nations in pursuing their low-carbon development path, renewable energy has begun to assume an increasingly significant role.
If used appropriately, solar energy is one of the most adaptable sources of power and has limitless potential. Solar energy has the potential to revolutionise the agricultural industry by conserving vital water resources, lowering reliance on the grid, and even providing farmers with a new source of income.
Before going further in detail, let us get a hold of a basic understanding of what exactly is on the grid and off-grid solar energy.
On-grid refers to a solar system that is connected to the grid or utility provider in the area.
For solar energy users, the utility system serves as a battery. It entails sending the excess energy generated by the solar panels to the grid’s power provider in exchange for a credit that can be redeemed at the end of the year.
Being connected to the grid has advantages since it eliminates the need for an expensive battery backup system to store any extra energy.
Off-grid refers to a situation when there is no connection to the electricity grid or a utility provider.
The usage of 100% self-sustaining energy makes this appealing.
Off-grid systems, however, have drawbacks because they call for a backup battery that can be pricey, heavy, and ecologically unfriendly, which defeats the objective of adopting solar (save money and live greener).
Significance of Solar Energy in Enhancing Agriculture
Using solar energy to irrigate crops has enormous promise. Photovoltaic pumping systems are technically advanced and suited for use in rural areas of developing countries, according to experience from previous projects.
Particularly in tropical and subtropical countries, up to 70% of agricultural products deteriorate during the conventional process of open-air drying. As a result, a lot of fruits and vegetables rot in underdeveloped nations. Common causes include insufficient processing capacity, poor infrastructure, and expanding marketing challenges brought on by rising protectionism and competitiveness in international agricultural markets. Particularly with extremely perishable products, drying is sometimes done at the farm level immediately following harvest, when local markets are saturated.
Solar dryers can be classified as direct (solar box dryers), indirect (solar cabinets), mixed mode (solar tunnel dryers), or hybrid (hybrid solar/biomass cabinets dryers) dryers.
Although there is still a small market for solar cooling, it has expanded significantly in recent years. In agricultural production and processing, cooling and refrigeration are crucial, for example, to preserve food goods. In general, the process uses a lot of energy. For other businesses as well as rural places without connection to the national grid, solar-powered cooling offers a significant clean energy opportunity.
Solar Pumping System
Solar pumping systems are very helpful in running an already overworked irrigation infrastructure.
Solar pumps can be used specifically as water lifting equipment in irrigation canals and to distribute water uniformly in places where conventional water systems cannot reach, like in the raised mountainous terrain.
For small farmers, the solar pesticide sprayer machine can increase output. Since the majority of pesticide spraying activity occurs during the day, these spray devices might be operated by directly utilising solar energy, eliminating the need for batteries.
Solar Powered Tractors
Tractor performs a wide range of tasks with the aid of a wide range of tools and equipment, converting agriculture farming into agro-industry.
Tractors typically utilize oil to operate, which raises the cost of farming and contributes to air pollution by releasing carbon dioxide during combustion.
Tractors driven by the sun have become a viable choice since they can operate during the day using solar energy and can operate at night using energy stored in batteries.
Future electrical needs for household utilities, the operation of electric vehicles, and the provision of cooling and heating can all be met by solar energy, making it an appealing alternative. To enable rural youth to improve their skills and enable villages to manage their solar equipment independently, it is essential to train and develop human resources. Consumer education regarding technology, its economics, and proper application is necessary.
The production of electric energy using solar energy should be integrated with the usage of land for agriculture.
Under consideration of soil protection and water conservation, it offers solutions for both the cultivation of food crops and, concurrently, the generation of power.
As a result, it may be possible to achieve more Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations while also improving the sustainability of food, water, energy, and climate.