Harnessing the sun for agriculture: Pathways to the successful expansion of Agrivoltaic systems in East Africa

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Agrivoltaic systems (AVS) (elevated solar arrays enabling energy and rainwater harvesting alongside crop production), have been gaining increasing traction globally. Most research has focused on the technical efficacy of AVS, with less attention paid to social dimensions and few studies in East Africa (EA). This research had two aims; firstly, to identify the critical enabling factors, institutions and support required to successfully widen AVS adoption across EA. Secondly, could widening adoption help address increasing climate-energy-food production-population growth challenges predicted for the coming decades. We present findings from two case study farms where AVS was installed (Kenya and Tanzania). We undertook user journey mapping with 14 participants associated with the case study farms, to monitor their experiences, building narratives that identify critical enabling factors and support required to successfully widen East African AVS adoption. The case studies are supplemented by additional farmer interviews (n=44) and two end of project workshops with diverse regional stakeholders. Our findings indicate AV technology could be beneficial to a range of agricultural systems and contribute to addressing climate-energy-food nexus issues in EA, but innovations are needed to enable this uptake. Specifically, widening AVS adoption equitably requires: government interventions to deal with land tenure uncertainties particularly for small-holders and cooperative farms; provision of appropriate finance mechanisms for different types of beneficiaries; reforming the current regulatory framework for energy investments and payments for surplus distribution of AV electricity; and, developing assistance from additional supporting agencies (e.g. regulatory, agricultural and technical) at key touch-points in the adoption process.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103657
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Early online date13 Jul 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jul 2024

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