Purdue University Graduate School
Egrubbs_Thesis_V7.pdf (34.43 MB)

Experimental Demonstration of Agrivoltaic Systems via Multi-Scale Design and Characterization

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posted on 2022-04-20, 18:47 authored by Elizabeth Kathleen GrubbsElizabeth Kathleen Grubbs
As the global population approaches 11 billion people, demands for sustainable food, energy, and water (FEW) are approaching unprecedented levels. Current technology places sustainable FEW production methods in direct competition with one another for global surface area, such as land area for agriculture versus photovoltaic farms. This is because current installation methods for solar modules create deep shading that suppresses plant growth. The field of agrivoltaics (AgPV) addresses this issue directly by optimizing coproduction strategies for FEW and developing systems where competition is reduced; however, previous work has seen reductions in agricultural output. AgPV, where module architecture is also modified and agricultural output is minimally impacted, requires novel multi-level experimental design and characterization. In my proposed thesis, I will address the following two aspects of the project: (1) a farm-level experimental analysis of existing PV and (2) a device-level analysis of new and emerging PV material candidates. To establish the plausibility of this work, I designed and implemented an agrivoltaic system with two treatments that was successfully farmed this year. In my thesis, I will demonstrate a fully characterized utility scale AgPV array through several steps. First, I will validate the prior simulation work on the constructed AgPV array. Then I will experimentally correlate crop growth underneath the AgPV experiment. Next, the effects of the shadowing from the array on crop growth will be quantified. I will optimize the tracking algorithm for the array to maximize crop growth during the summer and power production during other seasons. Finally, I will investigate a platform for evaluation of novel PV materials and devices tailored for AgPV systems using Photoluminescence Excitation Spectroscopy (PLE) where I redesigned, constructed, and validated a new experimental design.


INFEWS/T2: Solar Solutions for Food, Energy and Water Systems (S2FEWS)

Directorate for Engineering

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Collaborative Research: NRT-INFEWS: Sustainable Food, Energy, and Water Systems (SFEWS)

Directorate for Education & Human Resources

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Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Peter Bermel

Additional Committee Member 2

Rakesh Agrawal

Additional Committee Member 3

Mark Lundstrom

Additional Committee Member 4

Muhammad Ashraful Alam