Hydrology & Transition to Renewable Energy Generation
Initially investigations into the impact of solar parks on the area below the panels were carried out in the context of the potential use of such areas. Goetzberger and Zastrow (1981) first suggested farming under the panels and investigated in particular the interception of radiation. While a few research projects on such Agro- PV systems focus on yield from agriculture and energy generation, almost no research is done with respect to the direct impact of large solar parks on the soil and catchment water balance. Although the installation of large PV-systems results in changes to water balance, these aspects have not been scientifically followed up and are currently not considered in the planning process.
It is this gap the team Engineering Hydrology aims to close. At four sites we investigate how changes in the spatial distribution of rainfall together with the spatial and quantitative changes in evapotranspiration affect soil moisture and groundwater recharge. We measure soil moisture profiles to a depth of 1 m at a reference area, under and between the panels and below the dripping edge of the panels. Meteorological data are recorded at each site. At two site, at the HTWD-campus Pillnitz and at Taita Taveta University, Kenya additional research on the impact of solar panels on plant growth are undertaken.
Reference: Goetzberger A, Zastrow A. On the coexistence of solar-energy conversion and plant cultivation. International Journal of Solar Energy 1982; 1:55e69.