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Colocation Opportunities for Large Solar Infrastructures and Agriculture in Drylands


Applied Energy


Sujith Ravi

Jordan Macknick

David Lobell

Christopher Field

Karthik Ganesan

Rishabh Jain

The goal of this study was to explore opportunities to colocate solar infrastructures and agricultural crops to maximize the efficiency of land and water use. The authors investigated the energy inputs/outputs, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and economics of solar installations in northwestern India in comparison to aloe vera cultivation, another widely promoted and economically important land use in these systems. The life cycle analyses show that the colocated systems are economically viable in some rural areas and may provide opportunities for rural electrification and stimulate economic growth. The water inputs for cleaning solar panels are similar to amounts required for annual aloe productivity, suggesting the possibility of integrating the two systems to maximize land and water use efficiency.