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Green!Tea – Prospective life cycle assessment of agrivoltaics in the tea sector

At a glance


Agrivoltaics (APV) is a promising approach to produce renewable electricity and agricultural goods on the same piece of land. It therefore contributes to defusing land-use conflicts. Besides electricity production, APV creates favorable microclimates with a reduced dependency on irrigation and mineral fertilizers. Farmers can improve their livelihoods by increasing quality and quantity of harvest and selling electricity to the grid or private users. As APV is yet to be deployed on a large scale anywhere, it is important to integrate environmental considerations in the design phase of APV plants to maximize their contribution to sustainability.

Yet so far, life cycle assessments (LCAs), a method widely used to assess the environmental sustainability of products and services, have only been applied to existing APV plants. In the proposed project, we will conduct a prospective LCA to identify environmental hotspots and improvement potentials of APV for green tea production in Vietnam prior to implementation.

Green tea is a promising field crop for APV, as it requires shading. Vietnam is a focus country of Switzerland’s international economic cooperation and is among the top ten producers of tea. APV is therefore a pathway for increasing tea quality in an economically efficient way, thereby improving the livelihoods of farmers and securing access to lucrative export markets like Switzerland. We will first define the case at hand and possible scenarios and apply a full LCA consisting of 1) goal and scope definition, 2) life cycle inventory and data collection, for which we will closely collaborate with a globally active firm designing APV systems and partners in Vietnam, 3) life cycle impact assessment, and 4) interpretation of results. The latter stage will allow deriving recommendations for the case and more generally for the use of prospective LCA in APV.

We will close the project with dissemination activities. Besides stakeholders in Vietnam, the case study approach will have an impact at ZHAW with capacity building in the field of (ecological) value creation through circular business models and on Swiss stakeholders. Indeed, we intend to demonstrate the importance and benefits of prospective LCA in the nascent field of APV and contribute to Swiss economic policy vis-à-vis Vietnam.