Shade from Desert Solar Panels

This Bloomberg article describes one of the largest solar panel projects of the world, with a scale of 2 GW built in China.

I learned from that article that putting large numbers of solar panels in an arid area has another benefit I wasn’t aware of. From the article:

Shade provided by the project’s panels helps reduce evaporation, allowing some plants to be grown for feed on land that was otherwise barren and largely lifeless because of the area’s dry, dusty conditions, said CM Guangfu’s Fan.

If one pays a bit more to install the solar panels at a height where you can walk under them, that advantage for farming may be even bigger. Or go one step further and just build a large number of greenhouses with the solar panels for roofs.

I recall having blogged about a vertical farming project in an American desert lately. So I thought it was quite interesting to learn of solar panels enabling farming in areas that were unsuited for the purpose before.

One of the problems of this project is that the grid is not always able to transport all the electricity generated. The answer to that would be to relocate some demand close to the project. Build some aluminum smelters. Or some Bitcoin mining facilities. Or whatever else makes sense at zero marginal electricity cost.


Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

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