BayWa r.e. accelerates Agri-PV research with four new pilot projects in the Netherlands, Austria and Germany. These “fruitvoltaic” systems combine food and solar energy production on the same land and aim to improve fruit quality through research on plant health, growth and production, while reducing waste due to plastic foil.
In the Netherlands, together with its Dutch subsidiary GroenLeven, BayWa r.e has built two Agri-PV research facilities in the villages of Enspijk and Randwijk in the centre of the Netherlands with a capacity of 105 kWp and 125 kWp. The cherry and pear pilots will be monitored by the Fruit Tech Campus and the Wageningen University & Research (WUR) respectively. Both projects give the research institutes ample opportunity to test a variety of set-ups and their effects on the fruits.
In Austria, BayWa r.e., together with its subsidiary ECOWind, has completed a 340 kWp pilot for stone and pome fruit which was implemented together with the Haidegg research facility in Graz. Furthermore, BayWa r.e. and MKG GÖBEL finished construction of a 115 kWp raspberry pilot in Oedheim, in the South of Germany, with a light transmittance of approximately 70 % and rainproof construction. The research institute for Viticulture and fruit growing Weinsberg (LVWO) will be monitoring the quality of the fruit below the PV modules. With these pilots, BayWa r.e. keeps pushing the boundaries in fruit cultivation research via Agri-PV and is thereby actively supporting evidence-based decision-making in business and politics.
Funding bodies of the projects are the Dutch government, the federal state of Styria in Austria and the federal state of Baden-Württemberg in Germany.
Stephan Schindele, Head of Product Management Agri-PV at BayWa r.e., commented: “Our Agri-PV projects can be a great response to the poly-crisis we are facing right now. In times of climate change, water scarcity and energy crisis, we should look for multifunctional approaches that support our sustainable development in the EU and worldwide. We are experiencing a great demand for our Agri-PV solutions, because it brings PV expansion in line with agriculture and nature conservation. For these synergies to be leveraged between the sectors, technical adaptation of the PV generator is required, resulting in higher costs. Unfortunately, in many markets, the political course has not yet been set to serve this potential and demand. In collaboration with the scientific community, we will demonstrate that it is socially, environmentally and economically worthwhile to support Agri-PV.”
Dr. Benedikt Ortmann, Global Director of Solar Projects at BayWa r.e., added: “Climate change and agriculture are deeply connected with each other. We have already made a positive impact on both of these with our past projects, and we could do even better with our future ones. Making the most of combining food production and solar energy unites social, environmental and economic benefits. Now the question is: What should be done to create more of these kinds of projects?”
By the end of 2022, BayWa r.e. has developed and installed 15 Agri-PV projects in the EU. In 2023, the first Agri-PV projects will be built outside the EU and new “Rangevoltaic” applications added to its portfolio, in which animal husbandry for cows and sheep is combined with Agri-PV.
Image: Agri-PV pilot in Oedheim in the South of Germany (Copyright: MKG GÖBEL)