Slovakian startup Sun powered systems, s.r.o. has developed an automated photovoltaic system that can be used for various applications in soil preparation and crop growing. “The photovoltaic arm provides the off-grid power supply for the owner, useful for further vegetable processing, preparing of ready to use vegetable products or packaging,” the company's CEO and founder, Robert Demko, told pv magazine.
The system is connected to movable equipment, located underneath the solar panels, which is able to perform linear movements, in combination with simultaneous circular movement of the arm itself, in a spiral pattern with a width of either 60 cm or 30 cm. “The rotating arm is driven by a motor that is powered by the photovoltaic panels fastened to the arm itself,” Demko explained. “The system does not require a connection to the power grid or any other external source of electricity. It is ideal for locations with no proximity to a power network or sites that cannot be reached easily by electricity sources for any reason.”
The system uses an AC asynchronous motor with a rotational speed of 1500 revolutions per minute, and a power of 750 W for motion. It can be equipped with commercially available solar modules of small size, as well as LiFePo batteries and frequency regulators.
The company is offering the system in different variants. The smallest configuration consists of a six meter-long arm with a power output of 1 kW, which is reportedly able to cover a cultivated area of 104 m². The largest system is an 18-meter-long arm with a capacity of 2.4 kW and is able to cover a cultivated area of 994 m².
The system is able to remove weeds between defined lines in one cycle, which is the number of rotations the arm has to perform to move along the whole arm around the axis of rotation, from one end of the driving unit to another end. According to Demko, agricultural entrepreneurs will be able to install the system using only soil screws, which enable the machine to be replaced easily if needed.
“The way of soil cultivation implemented through our system is non-invasive and the soil does not carry the burden of heavy mechanisms which make it extremely dense,” he further explained.
The system is currently being assembled in Slovakia and the manufacturer plans to sell it in European countries where subsidies for agrivoltaics are being provided such as France, Italy, or Spain. “Our system is for all people, small communities and companies that want fresh and healthy vegetables,” Demko stated.
The 18-meter system is currently being sold at around €24,000.
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