Solar news has recently brought some very interesting notions to light. There are so many ways in which countries all over the world are starting to go solar, as more individuals recognize the benefits of doing so. Looking into the latest solar news in Japan illuminates the idea of taking advantage of mushroom farming in conjunction with solar power. Learn more about the new solar project that couples mushroom farming and solar energy generation right here at Sundrenched News.
In Japan, sadly, small farms are having a difficult time surviving – populations in rural areas are shrinking, and the average farmer is in their late 60s – this means that the average farmer is older than in the past. In an effort to revive the sector, two farms are trying out a new business model: the goal is to use solar panels with mushrooms growing under them. Generally speaking, cloud-ear mushrooms are shipped from China. But these farms situated in northeastern Japan are expected to yield 40 tons of cloud-ear mushrooms annually, in addition to 4,000 kilowatts of solar power. There are clearly multiple benefits to this innovative business model.
Minami Kikuchi, the individual leading this solar sharing project which couples solar power and agriculture at renewable energy startup Sustainergy, stated, “The environment needs to be dark and humid for mushrooms to spawn. We simply created the suitable environment for them by making use of vacant space under the solar panels.”
This project is one which uses available space in the most effective possible manner. Taking advantage of space under solar panels is an innovative way to create a good environment for mushrooms to grow. The economic positions that farmers are in is not a desirable one, but bringing in the idea of solar farms is one way that can help with regards to income.
Sustainable Development in Japan
Kikuchi wrote to Fast Company via e-mail, “There is no doubt that Japanese agriculture is facing a serious crisis–the average age of Japanese farmers has been rising, and abandoned farmland has been expanding, mainly due to severe economic position of farmers. To make improvements in this situation, we designed the project of combination with solar farms at large scale so that farmers could obtain additional stable income. Of course, this renewable energy technology is contributing to the sustainable development of Japan too.”
It is estimated that roughly 10 percent of farmland in Japan is not being used, even though most food tends to be imported from other countries. Regulation adjustments back in 2013 made solar power a more viable option, when government tariffs had otherwise discouraged companies from making the conversion to solar power generation for farmland. Solar power can be constructed with agriculture instead of being used to replace it. The regulation means that solar panels can be utilized so long as they aren’t replacing farms altogether.
Companies such as Sustainergy have the belief that farms like the two in this business model could grow other crops requiring a minimal amount of light, for instance, potatoes. But researchers at the University of Massachusetts in the United States have been looking into potentially growing even more crops. In South Deerfield, MA, a farm has spent the last couple of years growing plants such as Swiss chard, broccoli and kale – all under solar panels.
When the weather becomes very hot, the shade which is provided by the solar panels can actually serve to help the plants. Even if the plants are not getting as much sun as would be ideal, the yields can end up being similar to plants that are in a standard, open field. Yields might only be reduced minimally in typical weather, as per tests. A farmer wouldn’t see a decrease in profit, though, because they could sell electricity to make up for the difference financially. This makes going solar a feasible option which could actually offer financial perks.
Professor of agronomy at the university’s Stockbridge School of Agriculture, Stephen Herbert, said, “I’m trying to show that yields can be as good, or adequate. Putting solar panels on land that is currently growing food, and putting it into solar panels that are only ‘growing’ electricity is not a good thing to do. We could do both.”
Farmers won’t have to worry if they make the decision to go solar. “The business model would strip away the hurdles farmers currently face when trying to enter commercial solar power generation. They would be able to secure enough electricity for their own needs and have a surplus from which to gain an additional source of income,” according to Nikkei Asian Review.
In line with going solar, farmers can replace lawnmowers with animals such as grazing sheep and cattle. The farm wouldn’t hurt the planet in any way in terms of carbon emissions because the grass (which of course grows naturally) would eat up any carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The focus is eco-friendliness, and it’s the best thing we can do for the planet.
Mushrooms and Solar: Bringing New Life to Land in Japan
According to Treehugger, “As younger generations in Japan move away from rural areas and into cities, farm land is left behind and abandoned. New projects like this [the coupling of mushroom farming and solar power] could give these pieces of land a new life that provides clean energy, food and a source of income for the owners. The Ministry of Environment estimates that the unused farm land available for these types of dual use projects could generate 70,000 megawatts of solar power, or enough to power 20 million households.”
Also as per Treehugger, in regards to mushroom farming and solar power, “This is not the first dual use renewable energy idea pursued in Japan. The country has also been building huge floating solar power plants over its reservoirs as a way to both generate clean energy and keep the reservoirs healthy and full.”
There are so many options when it comes to taking advantage of solar energy to make the planet a cleaner, healthier place, from floating solar power plants to homes with solar panels installed. There are numerous benefits in relation to costs and profit. Combining solar power with mushroom farming is just one way in which the benefits of solar are being realized and revealed.
Follow the newest developments in solar news to discover how mushroom farming and solar power are being combined to make improvements for farms and farmers in Japan. Solar news will continue to impress in the years to come, as innovative individuals come together to offer new ideas on how solar can be utilized to make the world a better place.
Photo Source: Sustainergy