We’re throwing shade on today’s show, but in this case it’s a good thing.

There are a lot of stories in the news these days about new solar arrays going up. Proponents say these are eco-friendly and efficient ways to generate power.

But a piece I read in Ars Technica says there’s a way to make these sites even more productive, by growing crops underneath the solar panels.

Solar panels work when they soak up sunlight. Plants essentially do the same thing. So can you grow plants under devices that would take their sunshine away?

The answer, according to a study from the University of Arizona, is to grow food crops that can tolerate partial shade.

In fact, the research into what’s sometimes called agri-voltaics finds that in dry places, like the southwestern US, the plants are growing in a cooler environment under the solar panels, which reduces water use.

Now they just have to figure out how to get a harvester to drive under the solar panels.

Those University of Arizona researchers that were looking at what grows well under solar panels tested tomatoes and two types of peppers.

And you’re likely to see all of those if you head to Chandler, Arizona this weekend for the Rockin’ Taco Street Fest.

There will be food, music and games, since we’re getting close to Mexican Independence Day, there will be lucha libre-style pro wrestling.

Crops under solar panels can be a win-win (Ars Technica)

Rockin’ Taco Street Fest

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Photo by Brookhaven National Laboratory via Flickr/Creative Commons