A recent study from KU Leuven in Belgium has demonstrated that agrivoltaic facilities with single axis trackers have a lower levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) compared to those with fixed structures. The researchers found that projects with tracking achieved an LCOE of €0.077 ($0.082)/kWh, while facilities with fixed structures had an LCOE of €0.10/kWh. This difference in cost is primarily attributed to the significantly higher specific yield (kWh/kW) of the solar tracker system.
The study compared two system configurations at a testing field in Grembergen, Belgium, with both systems using the pile drilling technique for their foundations. The system with fixed structures had a row-to-row distance of 9 m to maintain appropriate spacing for crop growth and accessibility. The solar modules had a nominal power of 455 W and were placed at a maximum height of 2.6 m to minimize visual impact. In contrast, the system relying on trackers used the same module types but placed them at a height of 2.3 m to enhance bifacial gain.
The researchers found that the facility based on trackers outperformed the fixed structure setup in energy yield, resulting in approximately a 35% increase in monthly electricity production. Additionally, the system using tracking showed improved results in land use efficiency, which takes into account both electrical and agricultural yields. In the rain-fed 2021 season, the tracking_system achieved a 15% higher total yield, while the fixed system had a 5% lower yield, making it no better than separate production sites. In the dry 2022 season, the tracked system displayed a 47% increase in total yield, and the fixed one had an increase of 21% compared to the reference point.
This research highlights the benefits of using single-axis trackers in agrivoltaic facilities, not only for increased energy production but also for cost-effectiveness and land use efficiency. As a result, these findings can inform the design and implementation of future agrivoltaic projects, contributing to the growth of sustainable energy solutions.