Solar panels could help produce biofuel

Growing plants amongst photovoltaic panels could allow solar farms to not only generate electricity, but help produce crops for biofuels.

Crops such as agave, which can be converted to produce liquid ethanol, could be grown in the dry, arid location of a solar farm without needing additional water.

Photovoltaic (PV) solar farms run on sunlight, but water is required to remove dust and dirt from the panels to ensure they operate at maximum efficiency. Water is also used to dampen the ground to prevent the buildup and spread of dust.

Carefully selected crops, planted beneath the solar panels would capture the runoff water used for cleaning the PV panels, optimising use of the land.

The plants’ roots would also help anchor the soil and their foliage would help reduce the ability of wind to kick up dust.

Read more at Stanford University