Some plants will burn in direct sun, after all, and so there are plenty of food crops that would be happy to share their space with panels.
Prof. Barron-Gafford et al. focused on dry areas like the American Southwest, where water for crops is limiting and things are projected to get drier.
To test this, the researchers set up three plots for the summer months: one only solar panels, one with only crops, and one with both.
The solar panels, in this case, were built to stand a little over 3 meters off the ground—higher than a typical solar array.
The temperature of the solar panels, though, was about 9°C cooler during the day because of the growth beneath them.
The air was also a little less dry under the solar panels, and the soil dried out more slowly between waterings.
Finally, the cherry tomatoes saw a 65% increase in CO 2 uptake and a 65% increase in water-use efficiency. »