Project Everest

Doubling down on farming efficiency. Thinking about Agrovoltaic farms

When we look into farming practices and opportunities in country, we want to be ensuring we strive for as much impact as possible. 

Why not look towards agrovoltaic farming? It could be a way to lease land for a cheap rate, provide food for farmers, provide energy for a region and double down on land productivity. 

See link:

1) visual what it looks like https://vimeo.com/39260301

2) http://www.telegram.com/article/20130224/news/102249792

Nic Makram Nov 27, 2017

Definitely a great idea and well worth looking into. The Energy Assessment team in Timor has just thought about looking into this sort of concept. We are initially looking into setting up solar roofing over the carparks and on rooftops of some of the larger businesses around Dili, but on our first trip out today realised that there aren't a huge number of carparks around the place, so may look into other ideas just in case this doesn't pan out.

The fact that agriculture is such a big part of the Dili economy, means that farming is definitely an avenue to look into. We may look into collaborating with the Agriculture Assessment team here in Dili to to determine how viable this sort of agri-voltaic set up would work and see if we could set it up. It's definitely a good way of maximising the farm space, but logistically may be difficult to arrange for transport of materials out to farming plots in Dili.

Any thoughts on this?

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Corey Middleton Nov 27, 2017

In farming, the ability to use a larger landmass is the benefit I see. However, it is again, not at all lean.
As far as transport options, I looked into lightweight solutions and they exist, but potentially wouldn't provide the required capacity.

No options I can think of are lean and scalable.

working with the ag assessment team is the most viable way forward in my mind if pursuing this idea. That way you might be able to add enough value through crop production benefits to justify difficult transport.

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Wade Tink Dec 5, 2017

Reading into the article it brought up an interesting point relating to the solar panels: "while the panels’ technology may improve over time, those that will be installed are expected to have an 80-year lifespan; so if the Harveys decide to upgrade, those panels can still be used."
Is there a potential in looking into solar panel's that have been made redundant by upgrades in technology?
The capital expenditure in building an Agrovoltaic farm from scratch is well beyond an approach we could consider as Project Everest, however, the financials might work if you can gain the solar panels at scrap value if they are still functioning.

The other potential business model in this is funding the Agrovoltaic farms that others may take the risk on. However, at face value I don't know if the business model for the farm would work out in Timor-Leste.

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Nic Makram Dec 5, 2017

As ideal a solution as this could potentially be, having done some further research into the viability of this as a venture in Timor-Leste has shown that there is high risk involved, for minimal reward.
For a start, solar panels are not manufactured here, so importation has been the only route with which we can source panels, meaning even if we get scrap solar panels, we would still be at least $1200 down on importing (if we get them from Indonesia).
Once we've got all the materials, actually setting up the system in farms in Timor-Leste would be a real stretch. The farms are at least half an hour out from the port, transport systems here are pretty average and roads to the farms are riddled with potholes, so there is the potential for breakages.
Furthermore, the farmers here do not have the capital to invest in even a cheaper system, so I just can't see any possibility for this venture to work in Timor.

But I definitely think that this is the way for the future, it will just take someone with a huge farm to commit the funds to get this sort of thing up and running and then see the benefits longer term.

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