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Solar-powered electric farms are wired to grow crops and profits

World

Solar-powered electric farms are wired to grow crops and profits

Growing crops beneath solar panels is an innovative way to use farmland to generate renewable energy

Shoko Oda

In many respects, Takeshi Magami’s farm is like any other in Japan, growing everything from potatoes to ginger and eggplants. But one major difference sets it apart from its neighbours: the 2,826 solar panels perched above the crops. 

The panels, covering much of the one hectare of land in the tranquil countryside east of Tokyo, serve a dual purpose. They supply nearly all the power needed to run the farm, and are a source of extra income by selling surplus renewable energy to the grid.

For Magami that can mean 24-million yen (R2.96m) of additional revenue a year, eight times more than the maximum 3-million yen (R370,000) generated from his produce. While he benefits from generous tariffs that have since been reduced, it’s an indication of the added value available to farms in Japan and globally...

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