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Author

Undecided with Matt Ferrell

Grades

6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects

Science, Social Studies, Economics, Engineering

Regional Focus

Global

Format

YouTube Video

Solar Panels Plus Farming? Agrivoltaics Explained.

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Synopsis
  • In this video, host Matt Ferrell introduces agrivoltaics, an exciting new approach for maximizing land use by farming crops underneath solar panels. 
  • Students will learn about the benefits and challenges of using agrivoltaics and how some organizations are attempting to solve these challenges. 
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • This video is a great way for students to learn about the costs and benefits of a potential design solution to combat climate change. 
  • The video shows how agrivoltaics is being used in the real world.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This video has a sponsored ad from 5:28-5:49. 
  • Students should be familiar with terms such as NIMBY, guise, energy cooperatives, subsidies, and synergistic effects. 
  • Teachers may need to review concepts before showing the video, including regulation laws, the free market (costs and investment), and operational costs.

Differentiation

  • Science classes could use this video as part of a research project about innovations in renewable energy technologies, including dual-use renewable energy examples, or to inform an engineering design challenge.
  • Students could come up with a list of other dual-use climate solutions. 
  • Other related resources include this lesson on advocating for the use of renewable energy, this interactive tool on energy and land use, and this activity that compares types of renewable energies. 
Scientist Notes
This resource is a 13-minute video exploring agrivoltaics or the emerging area where solar panels are installed on agricultural land. Solar panels can be installed over or around existing crops, which might reduce crop yields for sun-hungry crops, but it may increase crop yields for shade-loving crops in regions with high solar resources. Examples are presented, including a raspberry farm in the Netherlands. This resource is recommended for teaching.
Standards
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS.ESS3.4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • MS.ETS1.1 Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
      • MS.ETS1.2 Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • Social Sciences
    • Economics: Microeconomics/Decision-Making (9-12)
      • HS.13 Analyze how incentives influence choices that may result in policies with a range of costs and benefits for different groups.
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