Some crops grow better under raised solar panels than they do in full sun

Honey producers Travis and Chiara Bolton keep bees at three solar farms where developers seeded native plants underneath and around panels. “The advantage to these sites is that they are intentionally planted for pollinators,” says Travis Bolton. “At these sites they’re really trying to get them back to a native prairie, and that’s a benefit to us.”

Native plants have replaced turfgrass and gravel as the go-to bedding for solar gardens in Minnesota. More than half of the 4,000 acres (1,600 hectares) of solar farms built in 2016 and 2017 feature native plants that not only benefit pollinators but also beautify the site.

Although Minnesota may be in the vanguard of encouraging solar farm developers to grow native plants, it is far from the only place studying how solar farms can harvest more than just energy. Universities in the United States, Germany and elsewhere are testing the concept of “dual use farming,” as some advocates call it, where crops grow below canopies of solar panels. They are finding they grow just fine—and, in some cases, better than crops in full sun.



Adding plants to solar farms offers all kinds of benefits to the facilities’ primary aim of reducing carbon emissions and expanding renewable energy. And native and crop vegetation can help improve the health of pollinators, which are threatened by habitat loss, pesticide poisoning, poor nutrition, disease, decreased genetic diversity and a host of other factors. As a result, managed honeybee colonies used for honey production declined from 5.7 million in the 1940s to around 2.7 million today. Pollinators have an enormous impact on the economy, too, by annually contributing US$24 billion to the nation’s economy.

“Solar development is happening on a massive scale as lands are being converted from agricultural land or unused land into solar projects,” says Jordan Macknick, energy-water-land lead analyst with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which funds research on the impact of native and crop plants grown in solar farms. “That represents an amazing opportunity to improve our agriculture and improve our food security while developing energy at the same time.”

NREL-funded research found growing native plants could reduce land acquisition costs, reduce weed control costs and slow panel degradation.



Pilot projects in Massachusetts, Arizona, Germany, China, Croatia, Italy, Japan and France look encouraging for mixing crops with solar panels, referred to as “dual use” farms because they offer both agricultural and electrical production. “So far, the pilots have been extremely successful in showing that you can grow crops and make electricity at the same time,” Macknick says.
A dual-use farm operated by the University of Massachusetts–Amherst grows a variety of plants—peppers, beans, cilantro, tomatoes, swiss chard, kale—below solar panels elevated roughly 7.5 to 9 feet (3 meters) or more above ground to allow for easier harvesting mainly by hand. Project researchers have found that 1- to 1.2-meter (3- to 4-foot) gaps between panel clusters led to crop yields almost the same as what they would have been in full sun sites.

One of the first concepts for mixing solar and agriculture, dubbed “agrophotovoltaics” (APV), was developed more than three decades ago by physicist Adolf Goetzberger. The research institute Goetzberger created—the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems—finally got around to building its own dual-use farm on one-third of a hectare (just over three-quarters of an acre) at an existing farm cooperative a few years ago. The institute elevated 720 solar panels high enough for farm machinery to harvest plants underneath and nearby, according to a 2017 press release.

The researchers planted wheat, potatoes, celeriac and clover grass in the open and under the panels and compared the yields. Solar shading decreased production 5.3 percent to 19 percent. Yet electricity from the panels, which capture both indirect and direct light, was used to power a crop processing plant and electric farm machinery, offsetting those costs and increasing land use efficiency by 60 percent.





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Cumulative PV capacity installed under the scheme reached 90 MW at the end of June. Of this capacity, around 27 MW were deployed in the second quarter alone.

The State Agency on Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving of Ukraine (SAEE) has revealed that total installed capacity under the country’s net metering scheme topped 90 MW at the end of June 2018.

At the end of March, cumulative capacity under the mechanism stood at around 63 MW, which means that another 27 MW of residential and commercial PV systems were deployed in the second quarter alone.

Overall, 4,660 rooftop PV arrays were installed under the scheme at the end of the latest quarter, in which new additions totaled 543. This compares to 3,553 projects at the end of March and around just 200 new projects in the first quarter of 2017.

Total investments in this market segment, said SAEE, have reached a total of €88 million. “This activity is pleasantly impressive and proves that in June 2015 we introduced an effective stimulus – a green tariff for private solar energy power generators with a capacity of up to 30 kW,” said Sergey Savchuk, head of SAEE.

Ukraine’s net metering mechanism, which is open to PV installations with a capacity of up to 30 kW, was introduced under the law №514-VIII, which came into effect in April 2015.

Ukraine’s total operational PV capacity reached around 841 MW as of the end of 2017, according to new provisional numbers released by the Ukrainian government.





On July 17, LONGi Solar signed a USD600 million contract with an American company to sell high-efficiency monocrystalline modules in the United States. This is another solid step LONGi Solar as a global leading monocrystalline module manufacturer made in its overseas deployment.

The growing shipment and expanding global presence of LONGi Solar are obvious facts to all in the industry, they are not only closely related to LONGi’s forward-looking overseas deployment, but also demonstrate the course of globalization of LONGi Solar as a Chinese PV company.

“Financial health” and “technology leadership” are two “sharp tools” of LONGi going global, and they are also the core competitiveness carrying customer value. Adhering to the philosophy of “good corporate operation is the best protection for customers”, LONGi has always been pursuing stable operation and sustainable profitability while developing fast. The 2018Q1 financial report shows that LONGi continues to hold the top position in terms of profitability of PV companies, and rank No.1 in terms of financial health among more than 50 core manufacturing enterprises in the world, which not only reflects the company’s strong profitability and cost control ability, but also provides strong support for the global competition.

The sound financial health and good revenue have provided strong support for technological innovation of LONGi and become the core elements of enterprise growth. According to the statistics of PV-Tech, as of the end of 2017, LONGi invested RMB 2.38 billion in R&D in the past five years, becoming the PV manufacturer with the largest R&D investment in the world.

With the rolling out of global deployment, LONGi has relied on strong technical support and heavy R&D investment to expand the overseas deployment while maintaining a leading edge. The overseas shipment accounted for about 10% of LONGi’s shipment in 2017, and is expected to account for 25%-30% in 2018. LONGi President Li Zhenguo revealed at Intersolar Europe that “LONGi aims at the global PV market, and strives to ship more than 50% of module products to overseas markets by 2020.”

For LONGi, the USD600 million order from an American customer is a strong endorsement of its overseas market exploration that more customers are willing to pay for high-efficiency products. In the long run, the biggest value is that LONGi will continue to reduce the LCOE with innovative efficient products and advanced technologies.

By maintaining financial health and continuously upgrading technologies, LONGi is committed to making new breakthroughs for the development of the industry and advancing PV grid parity worldwide. From this point of view, Chinese PV companies surviving the competition will surely embark on the road of globalization, and LONGi has already walked in front of the industry.




The FELIX High Performance Printing & Testing Line from Formula E s.r.l. (‘Formula E’) has received the Final Acceptance Certificate for the production of N-type bifacial cells and IBC cells at Jolywood (Taizhou) Solar Technology Co. Ltd (‘Jolywood’).

Jolywood is the world leader in the development and production of N-type high-efficiency mono-crystalline bifacial solar cells and modules. The company currently has 2.1GW solar cell capacity.

The FELIX High Performance Printing & Testing Line is designed and optimized to ensure best in class performance in demanding 24/7 production. The fully featured dual lane print line with line loader, printer, dryers and handling stations and embedded AOI for print inspection is based on a linear motor technology with absolute encoders in close loop control to grant high throughput, high accuracy, high repeatability and high stability.

“We are very pleased with the performance of the Formula E metallization line. It enables us to drive our future cell designs beyond the limits,” said Mr. Lin, President of Jolywood. “Our new process developments are demanding innovative production systems and solutions for highest efficiency and highest yield at significant lower cost.”

Mr. Spotti, President of Formula E, said: “With our unique process control we are enabling a very high print accuracy of 8µm@3σ enabling ultra-fine line Double Printing. We are especially appreciated that Jolywood as world-wide leader in N-type bifacial has chosen our solution.”

Through effective collaboration between Jolywood and Formula E the Final Acceptance was achieved with all guarantees passed. The line is in production at Jolywood, delivering high output and yield for next generation solar cells. The Formula E metallization line enables highest cell efficiencies and highest yield at significant cost savings.




China-based PV module materials and N-type mono and IBC (Interdigitated Back Contact) bifacial module manufacturer, Jolywood has solidified its business relationship with Qinghai province State Power Investment Corporation’s Huanghe Hydropower Development Co., (SPIC) by establishing a joint laboratory to advance new materials, cells and module technology.

Jolywood said the technology partnership included such areas as N-type mono bifacial high-efficiency solar modules as well as mono N-type TOPCon and IBC solar cells and evaluating operating PV systems using these technologies in terms of efficiency, module encapsulation and backside efficiency, as well as on more in-depth studies on reliability and diversified application scenarios.

Lin Jianwei, chairman of Jolywood said: "Huanghe Hydropower and Jolywood have always maintained a very close relationship, and the establishment of a joint innovation laboratory means that the two parties will establish a deeper and more long-term strategic cooperation in the future. As an opportunity, we will make use of our respective strengths to promote key technology enhancements for N-type bifacial high-efficiency modules, and quickly achieve grid parity for a win-win situation."


A few months ago, Jolywood entered into a 5GW ‘Framework Agreement’ with SPIC to further the adoption of advanced technology in utility-scale PV power plants in China. Emphasis was placed on deploying Jolywood’s N-type mono ‘TOPCon’ modules to the tune of around 1GW in 2019.

SPIC also operates its own PV module manufacturing plants. The collaboration includes promoting high-efficiency technology for PV power plants to reach grid parity and beyond.

SPIC is responsible for operating the largest (100MW) grid connected PV power plant in the world designed to evaluate leading-edge technologies such as modules, trackers, inverters and O&M systems.
The test plant includes the world´s largest bifacial solar project, which was connected as part of the 100MW installation at the end of 2017 in Golmud, Qinghai province.

Companies such as Jolywood provided bifacial modules for long-term evaluation as well as rivals such as LONGi Solar and inverter and plant O&M hardware and software specialists such as Huawei.

The plant has 149 vendors technology under evaluation through a single big data power plant monitoring system from Huawei, which is also being evaluated.





‘Silicon Module Super League’ member LONGi Solar, a subsidiary of leading monocrystalline wafer producer LONGi Green Energy Technology, is showcasing its expanding range of high-efficiency P-type monocrystalline modules at Intersolar Europe.

A key highlight will be LONGi Solar’s ‘Hi-MO3’ half-cut P-type mono PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell) bifacial module. The innovative half-cut bifacial P-type -mono PERC module follows on the heels of its Hi-MO1 PERC low-LID module in 2016 and Hi-MO2 bifacial PERC module in 2017.


Hi-MO3 uses half-cut techniques to reduce the operating current of the cell by half, effectively reducing resistance losses and increasing power by 5-10 watts on average. With bifacial technology, the front-side power of the module reaches 320W (60-cell), and the bifaciality is higher than 75%.
(More about the module:

In May 2018, LONGi Solar announced that it had set a new conversion efficiency record of 20.66% for a P-type monocrystalline bifacial ‘shingled’ cell formatted module. The China General Certification Center (CGC) was said to have validated the record.

Based on the high conversion efficiency of single-sided PERC, bifacial PERC cells generate power from both the front and rear sides, adding 10%-25% higher yield at a cost similar to single-sided PERC. The shingling of the cells reduces losses between the cells and strings, while connecting ribbons are rear located, adding front side surface area and boosting overall module performance.


LONGi announced in January 2018 that the world’s largest (100MW) field testing PV power plant, owned and operated by Qinghai province State Power Investment Corporation’s Huanghe Hydropower Development Co. Ltd., would include 20MW of HiMO2 PERC bifacial modules. In total, 71MW of bifacial modules from a range of manufacturers’ products were being tested , which meant the test plant would also become the world’s largest bifacial solar power project.






Bloomberg has once again rated LONGi Solar, one of the leading manufacturers of monocrystalline high-performance modules, as a Tier 1 company. With an annual production capacity of 6,500 megawatts (MW), LONGi Solar ranks sixth among the largest Tier 1 manufacturers and is also listed as “Top Performer” in the PV Module Reliability Scorecard Report 2018 of DNV GL, the world’s largest independent certification body in the energy sector.


“We are very pleased to be rated again as a Tier 1 manufacturer,” says Mr Li Wenxue, president of LONGi Solar. “It proves that our focus on top quality and performance is also appreciated by project planners and banks.” LONGi Solar is the only manufacturer worldwide that specializes completely in monocrystalline high-performance modules, in particular PERC technology.

Confidence in financial stability

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) rating system for PV module manufacturers is based on bankability to enable a quality rating for solar modules. Only manufacturers who have supplied six different projects with their own solar modules financed by six different banks in the last two years are included in the Tier 1 group.

Manufacturers in China, India and Turkey are subject to stricter criteria: The project must be non-recourse, i.e. the banks are responsible for the risk of failure of PV modules in the projects examined.

Certified product quality

In its fourth annual PV Module Reliability Scorecard Report 2018, the certification company DNV GL also awarded the monocrystalline PERC modules from LONGi Solar as “Top Performer”. The aim of this evaluation is to make well-founded statements about the long-term reliability of solar modules.

The DNV GL awards are based on a laboratory test for the reliability of PV modules, which includes the following criteria: Performance in thermal cycles, humid heat, dynamic-mechanical load and potentially induced degradation.

Thanks to the high efficiency, high reliability and high yield of monocrystalline modules from LONGi Solar, the manufacturer was able to convince in all four categories.

High investments in R&D

LONGi Solar wants to further increase the output of solar modules in order to reduce the LCOE. In the medium term, the company aims to sell mono modules at prices that are currently only common for polycrystalline modules. In 2017, the company therefore invested RMB 1.108 billion in research and development, or 6.8 percent of its sales. No other module manufacturer invests more in technology development. LONGi Solar is also focusing on high volumes – more than 12 GW module production capacity is to be achieved by the end of 2018.


LONGi Solar at the Intersolar Europe

At the Intersolar Europe trade fair in Munich from 20 to 22 June 2018 LONGi Solar will present its module technology, including half cut cells combined with PERC technology in bifacial modules and the mono PERC modules with overlapping cells of the next generation, which achieve 400 Watt peak (Wp) per 72 cell module.





sav1This was emphasized by the Head of State Department of Energy Efficiency Sergey Savchuk, speaking at the International Conference "Financing Energy in Ukraine. Green Future is coming ", which took place at the initiative of the legislative company Redcliffe Partners ( and with the participation of a newly elected member of the NKRECP Dmytro Kovalenko, Head of the Ukrainian Wind Energy Association Andriy Konechenkov, Head of the International Turkish-Ukrainian Business Association Burak Pehlivan and other experts.

First of all, the participants of the conference noted the key factors for the development of "green" energy, which were carried out by State Energy Efficiency:

• “feed-in” tariff for the production of "clean" electricity has been tied to euro and is one of the highest in Europe;

• an increase to "feed-in" tariff for the use of Ukrainian equipment was introduced;

• conclusion of long-term contracts for the sale and purchase of electric energy produced under the "ffed-in" tariff for the whole term of the tariff;

• a transparent scheme for calculating, installing and reviewing tariffs for heat "not from gas" was created.

"Having improved the legal framework over the last few years, we have begun a positive tendency for development of renewable energy. Every year the amount of new installed capacities increases, investors from different countries of the world are increasingly interested in the Ukrainian market ", - said S.Savchuk.

In order to support the development and implementation of new projects, in addition to legislative incentives, the State Energy Efficiency works on the creation of various financial instruments.

"Together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, NEFCO, we have already established a Finnish-Ukrainian Trust Fund to finance the development of green projects in Ukraine. The fund amounts 6 million euros. In the nearest future the Fund will start accepting applications and become an effective platform for project preparation", - said S.Savchuk.

Another tool to speed up the search for projects and investors was the Interactive Map "UAMAP" (, where potential "green" projects worth more than 3.4 billion euros have been presented.





agro2 1On 6-9 June, “Solar Systems” LLC took part in the largest international agricultural trade show of Ukraine and Eastern Europe - AGRO-2018. The trade show was held in Kiev on the territory of NK "Expocenter of Ukraine".
On the outdoor site the company presented bifacial monocrystalline N-type modules from the world leading manufacturer JOLYWOOD Solar Technology. Visitors could see the JW-D60N modules (N-type High Efficiency Monocrystalline Silicon Bifacial Double Glass Module) and for the first time in Ukraine - N-type High Efficiency Monocrystalline Silicon Bifacial Half-cell Transparent Module, JW-HT120N.

What are the advantages of bifacial N-type modules over standard P-type modules?

Firstly, it is the generation of electricity from both sides, due to the bifacial photovoltaic capacity of the silicon wafer. The efficiency of the module increases, providing 10-20% additional annual generation, and the efficiency of the silicon N-type cell reaches 23.1%.agro1 1
The capacity of a 60-cell module reaches 320 W, of a 72-cell one - 375 W.

The most important difference is the absence of LID and PID. Unlike P-type wafers, which contain boron, that forms a chemical reaction with oxygen in the sunlight, N-type wafers contain phosphorus, that does not form a similar reaction. As a result, the power degradation of N-type module in the first year is less than 1%, and the further annual degradation is less than 0.40%.

Thus, the warranty for materials and processing of bifacial N-type modules contains 15 years, and the linear performance warranty is 30 years.

Bifacial modules have better weak illumination response, and have stronger environmental adaptability.

Also, JOLYWOOD bifacial modules feature special application: BIPV, vertical installation, snow fields, high-humid area, dusty and wind area.

According to experts' forecasts, bifacial modules, and especially bifacial half-cell modules will gradually occupy a significant share in the solar energy market.

On May 28, at SNEC 2018, LONGi Solar released its Hi-MO3, an innovativehalf-cut bifacial p-mono PERC module. This is another advanced PERC cell and module construction by LONGi Solar which follows on the heel of its Hi-MO1 PERC low-LID module in 2016 and Hi-MO2 bifacial PERC module in 2017.

Hi-MO3 uses half-cut techniques to reduce the operating current of the cell by half, effectively reducing resistance losses and increasing power by 5-10 watts on average. With bifacial technology, the front-side power of the module reaches 320W (60-cell), and the bifaciality is higher than 75%. Under shaded conditions, Hi-MO3 yields more energy than a full-cell module array. The advantages of Hi-MO3 include lower hot spot temperature that reduces LCOE by a factor of 10% or more compared to conventional products at all irradiation levels.

“This 3rd generation of Hi-MO with higher power, higher yield, lower hot spot effect further improves product efficiency and performance which in turn accelerates the reduction of LCOE,”, Chairman of LONGi, said. “It’s the result of the R&D team’s relentless focus in technological innovations. We expect that the launch of Hi-MO3 can bring new breakthroughs to the development of the industry.”

LONGi has continuously increased R&D investment in the science and technology of mono-crystalline. In the past five years, the company invested a total of RMB 2.464 billion. In 2017 alone, the company invested RMB1.108 billion, 6.77% of its sales, into R&D, the highest among PV companies in the world. With continuous R&D investment, LONGi Solar has made remarkable technological progress. Since September 2017, the company has broken the world records for PERC cell and module technology eight times.

In 2017, LONGi Solar shipped 4.66GW monocrystalline modules, ranking first in the world in monocrystalline cell and module shipments for three consecutive years. The release of Hi-MO3 is expected to further accelerate the progress of PV grid parity.

Longi snec s




SU"Solar Systems" LLC took part in the first international solar trade show SOLAR Ukraine 2018, which took place on May 17-20 in the Exhibition Center "KivExpoPlaza" in Kiev. "Solar Systems", who are an official representative of the world's leading manufacturer of monocrystalline modules LONGi Solar, officially presented absolutely new modules on the Ukrainian market – bifacial monocrystalline PERC modules LR6-60BP LR6-72BP of 300 W and 365 W respectively.

Among the advantages of these modules over other modules in the Ukrainian market are: high power and efficiency (up to 20%), better performance in high temperature and under low ilumination, up to 25% annual additional energy gain due to direct and diffuse sunlight reflected on the rear side, no PID, lower LID etc.




Another new technology that was presented at the show by the company was the technology of installing bifacial modules on a single-axis tracker in the direction of "east-west".

This design provides:
- up to 15% more generation of kWh per year in comparison with the installation of bifacial modules on the static system in the direction "south-north";
- up to 35% more kWh per year in comparison with monofacial modules installed on the static system in the direction "south-north" and much more.


Solar energy in Ukraine is developing very dynamically. In 2017, about $ 250 million was invested in solar energy in Ukraine, which is almost 2 times more than in 2016. For the first quarter of 2018, the total capacity of solar power plants (SPP) operating under the "feed-in" tariff reached 841 MW. At the same time, only for 3 months of the current year another 100 MW has been installed, which is almost half of the total capacity installed during the last year.

The exhibition was attended by 38 Ukrainian and foreign companies, who presented modern developments in the field of generation and use of solar energy: solar modules, modular mini-power plants, intelligent energy metering systems, automated systems for commercial electricity metering, electrical cable diagnosis systems and much more. 

Daqo poly rod chunks 750 390 80 sLeading fully-integrated high-efficiency monocrystalline module manufacturer and ‘Silicon Module Super League’ (SMSL) member LONGi Green Energy Technology has secured an ultra-high-quality polysilicon supply agreement with China-based polysilicon producer Daqo New Energy Corp.

Daqo said that the polysilicon supply agreement with LONGi amounted to 39,600MT over a 32-month period. Financial details were not disclosed.

Baoshen Zhong, Chairman of LONGi, commented, "Daqo New Energy’s polysilicon meets the stringent purity requirements we have for the production of high-efficiency mono-crystalline solar products. This supply agreement with Daqo New Energy will allow us to expand production capacity of our high-efficiency mono-crystalline solar products to meet the growing demand from our downstream customers. Daqo New Energy’s ultra-high-quality polysilicon and reliability make them the ideal strategic supplier, and we look forward building a deeper partnership with them.”

LONGi had recently secured a three year deal to purchase polysilicon from Korean-headquartered polysilicon producer OCI Co worth around US$1.02 billion and amounted to 64,638MT being purchased for its subsidiaries that produce monocrystalline silicon ingots and wafers locate in Yinchuan, Baoshan, Lijang and Ningxia, China.

LONGi had reached a nameplate ingot/wafer capacity of 15GW at the end of 2017, up 2GW from previous plans as the company accelerated production ramps to meet demand. However, the company is planning to expand wafer capacity to 28GW by the end of 2018 and 36GW by the end of 2019. LONGi also said that the plan was to achieve 45GW by the end of 2020.

Daqo has also recently announced plans for expanding production by at least 12,000MT in less than 18-months that will be dedicated to supplying high-efficiency monocrystalline wafers producers, due to continued strong demand.

Daqo had said that the Phase 3B expansion at its Xinjiang, China facility was expected to start pilot production in the first half of 2019. The expansion would lead to a total annual nameplate capacity of over 30,000 MT by the end of the second quarter of 2019.