On June 16th the BARD team and BARD board member Abed Gera, the director of plant protection services and acting chief scientist at the ministry of agriculture were hosted by Dr. Ibrahim Yehia, the scientific director of the Triangle R&D and several of the R&D centers' scientists. The Triangle R&D is a community-based research center set up by the Israeli ministry of science & technology. The center works with a broad range of partners in academia and government to advance its mandate of using science and technology for the benefit of the community. At the meeting, Triangle R&D scientists presented their research on water treatment approaches, water runoff usage and the use of molecular encapsulation of drugs for pest control in agriculture.
Dr. Esther Magadley presented a BARD-funded research project: “Improving Sustainability of Greenhouse Production using Semi-Transparent Flexible Photovoltaic Films”. This research is conducted jointly by scientists from the Triangle R&D, the agricultural research organization (Volcani center), and the University of Arizona.
Solar photovoltaic applications offer the potential for large-scale, low carbon, electricity generation. However, large land areas are needed for photovoltaics to meet increasing energy demands. Therefore, innovative, and integrated applications are required for efficient use of solar energy upon a given surface area.
Agrivoltaics is an integrated system designed to combine photovoltaic electricity production and agricultural production on the same land area. One promising approach to agrivoltaics is the greenhouse system integrated with photovoltaics: part of the incident solar radiation is harvested for generating power that can be used for meeting some (or all) of the energy needed for the greenhouse, or else for sale to the electric grid.
Photovoltaic films have two uses: they can be tuned to absorb light not required for crop growth, or they can transmit a spectrum beneficial for crop production. In warm climates, they may reduce greenhouse heat-load and eliminate the need for expensive cooling systems. Organic photovoltaic technology has proven to be a great opportunity for photovoltaic greenhouses. With their finite bandwidth absorption, they are suitable as greenhouse cover/shading materials.
This technology also offers fast and low-cost, large-scale manufacturing capabilities, and thus reduces carbon emissions. The project brought together a multidisciplinary collaboration using expertise from engineering, plant sciences, and physics. The project results will provide applicable knowledge on the capabilities and limitations of integrating photovoltaics into greenhouse systems for electricity generation while achieving sustainable food production. In addition, the results of this study can be used to establish guidelines for the applications of this integrated energy and food production system for growers, extension service providers and manufacturers of photovoltaic systems.