Trade-off between photovoltaic systems installation and agricultural practices on arable lands: An environmental and socio-economic impact analysis for Italy
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The paper introduces and discusses an open-source spatial-based model (called r.green.solar) able to quantify the energy production from solar photovoltaic (PV) ground-mounted panels. Socio-economic and environmental impacts can be evaluated by the model. The model starts from the theoretical quantity of solar PV potential energy and estimates a reduction of total amount of energy based on legal, technical, recommended and economic constraints. Model outputs were used for a trade-off analysis between energy prdduction and traditional crops for food feed cultivation on not irrigated arable land. The model was tested at regional level for a Mediterranean context (Italy). The results confirm that the economic profitability of PV systems follows a north-south gradient, but the main impacts are related to local peculiarities-such as the disposal of not irrigated arable land and the presence of constraints, in particular the landscape maintenance, the morphological variables and the specialization index-and crop yields.