University of Alberta researchers says lawns, backyards, and roofs could be used to produce both solar power and fresh vegetables.
Guillermo Hernandez, a soil scientist, and Camila Quiroz, a research intern from Peru, are looking into growing crops under solar panels to improve the use of space in cities and farms.
Crop harvesting under solar panels is called agrivoltaics, a relatively new concept to improve land-use efficiency by producing energy and food in the same spot.
In a 25-day experiment, Hernandez and Quiroz grew batches of spinach under three systems — thick solar panels, thin solar panels and without solar panels.
The researchers used simulated sunlight in a small room at the university during the Alberta winter.
Quiroz, who is studying energy engineering in Peru, says there weren’t any significant differences in taste or nutrition between the spinach grown under solar panels and the batch grown under simulated sunlight.