Israel: Agrovoltaics project researches potential of obtaining renewable energy

A project on a small piece of land in the desert of Israel could be a game-changer in the fight against world hunger. Surrounded by palm trees, arid land, and date farms, this research project has found a way to grow food in desert-like areas while producing electricity.  

After years of development, the project — initiated by the Jewish National Fund USA in cooperation with the University of Arizona and the Kasser Joint Institute — is now being sent to remote places around the world, offering an antidote to the dangers of drought and extreme heat. 

It’s almost like a sustainable, self-sufficient toolbox that can be taken anywhere in the world. It allows for crops to grow while creating their own electricity through the solar panel. That electricity is used for irrigation of the crops — and could even power a house. 

Dr. Tali Zohar, lead researcher on the project, explains that the program has grown everything from tomatoes and lettuce to spinach and kale through this new autonomous system. But it has taken time and patience to develop the experiments and turn them into reality, she explains. 

“The main idea is to harvest the sun twice. You’re using the same land for producing food and energy. We don’t have to choose. Now you go around Israel and other places, you have to choose. Either land is used for electricity or for crops. We’re saying let’s do both on the same land.” 

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