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University of Arizona (2021)

Explorations in the Food-Energy Nexus : Organic Photovoltaics Applications to Greenhouse Crop Production Systems

Waller, Rebekah

Titre : Explorations in the Food-Energy Nexus : Organic Photovoltaics Applications to Greenhouse Crop Production Systems

Auteur : Waller, Rebekah

Université de soutenance : University of Arizona

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2021

Résumé partiel
The integration of photovoltaic technologies with agricultural systems - known as ‘Agrivoltaics’, is seen as a path forward for sustainable development, increasing the productivity of land and reducing competition for space between food and energy production. Relative to open-field farming, greenhouse crop production systems are more resource-use efficient, achieving higher annual yields per unit area using less water and pesticides. Because of these advantages, greenhouse agriculture is increasingly seen a solution to two global challenges : the first is the need to intensify agricultural production to meet the needs of a growing human population ; the second is the need to reduce the environmental impacts, namely ecosystem degradation and high resource demands, of the agricultural sector overall. Even so, greenhouses can be highly energy-intensive to operate due to the climate control systems and other electrical components needed to provide and maintain proper conditions for plant growth. Thus, the effective integration of PV technologies with greenhouses can strengthen the role of greenhouse agriculture in sustainable intensification strategies, reducing industry reliance on fossil-fuel based energy sources.At the same time, the emerging technology of organic photovoltaics (OPV), based on polymer and small molecule semiconductor materials, is gaining traction in research and industry for its niche applications in the PV market, particularly in building-integrated PV (BIPV) schemes. Within the BIPV domain, greenhouses are seen as a uniquely suitable candidate for OPV integration, emphasizing key technological advantages of OPV devices, namely : facile chemical tailorability, which enables customization of material transparency and light absorption and transmission properties to complement plant light requirements ; compatibility with a variety of substrates, including conventional greenhouse glazing/covering materials ; and overall design versatility (lightweight, mechanical flexibility) that facilitates easy installation onto greenhouse structures. Recognizing the growing interest in OPV applications to greenhouses, a pilot greenhouse study was conducted to demonstrate opportunities and challenges that exist in this design concept, specifically for greenhouses in arid regions characterized by high solar insolation. The outdoor electrical performance of large-area, semi-transparent, roll-to-roll printed OPV arrays deployed on a gothic-arch, polyethylene-covered greenhouse was evaluated for a five-month period (October 2019–February 2020) ; integrating 3-D surface modeling and solar modeling tools, methods to estimate incident irradiance components for flexible PV on a curved greenhouse roof surface were developed. These methods were then applied to assess the performance, and more specifically, analyze the effects of varying irradiance conditions on the electrical behavior of the OPV devices deployed on the greenhouse for a five-month period. The OPV arrays showed better power conversion efficiencies (PCE) at low incident irradiance levels, and in the morning and midday periods compared to the afternoon period.

Mots clés : Agrivoltaics food-energy nexus greenhouse greenhouse shading OPV efficiency organic photovoltaics


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