Extreme weather conditions will increase with climate change. To protect fields and herds from drought, hail, frost, rain or sun, we rely on solar power. With Agri-PV, we help farmers, livestock and fish farmers to find a suitable self-supporting solution and turn their farm into a sustainable Farm 5.0.
Human & Animal
Agri-PV combines solar systems with effective protection of agricultural crops, animal herds and breeding sites. The solar modules harvest valuable solar energy and convert it into electricity. At the same time, they roof the farmland and systems to protect against hail, rain or sun. The PV modules can be installed close to the ground, on stilts or in combination. Different solutions can be implemented depending on the crop or animal species and the necessary conditions. We support you from the development, engineering and procurement to the realization of your project (EPC) and can also take over the operation and maintenance of your system (O&M).
Farm 5.0 describes sustainable agriculture. The aim is to preserve biodiversity, restore natural cycles and reduce CO2 emissions.
We imagine Farm 5.0 as a combination of sustainable concepts: Agricultural land and flower strips in alternation create species-appropriate conditions for plant and animal life. PV modules on the agricultural land produce the sustainable electricity for electric agricultural machinery and the production buildings. In this way, the entire farm becomes CO2-neutral. It integrates into the landscape without causing additional damage. Because the PV modules are used as roofing, the need for irrigation and pesticides can be reduced. In addition, the yield of cultivated crops increases thanks to the more controllable conditions. Surplus renewable electricity can be sold to the village or city dwellers.
In modern agriculture, the focus is on the digitalization or automation of agricultural processes. Farm 5.0 aims to create sustainable agriculture by combining PV modules and crops.
Agriculture, livestock and fishing occupy large areas. Stable conditions are advantageous for agri- and aquacultures. Canopies are expensive, machines and intelligent monitoring and control need electricity. If solar modules are used in dual function, additional land can be used for the necessary expansion of renewable energy production. Farmers can convert their electricity consumption and improve the conditions for their plants and animals. At the same time, Agri-PV defuses the land use conflict and offers farmers additional sources of income.
No additional work in everyday life
Agri-PV can be used by farmers, animal and fish farmers on their land, but it is also an interesting investment opportunity.
In order for the solar plant to pay for itself quickly and for you to benefit from the additional source of income from electricity generation, you should use at least 5 hectares of agricultural land for Agri-PV. The more area you can use, the better! To maximise the benefits, it is also a good idea to join forces with neighbouring landowners.
In various parts of the world Agri-PV is already being tested with promising results. In Japan, the concept is used under the name of Solar Sharing, while in China it is known as PV+. Agri-PV is already common in both nations as well as in India. The concept is called agrivoltaics in the U.S.A. In Europe, France and Italy are the pioneers of agrivoltaïsme, but German suppliers are following suit and increasingly applying the idea of APV, agro-PV or bio-PV.
Higher yields of winter wheat, potatoes and celery in Germany
The joint project “Agrophotovoltatics – Resource Efficient Land Use” (APV-RESOLA), led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, equipped a 0.3 hectare area of arable land on Lake Constance with solar modules with a total output of 194 kilowatts. The Demeter-Hofgemeinschaft Heggelbach […] recorded […] higher yields for three of the four crops cultivated (winter wheat, potatoes, clover grass, celery) under the APV system than on the reference area without solar modules. The strongest increase was in the celery yield (+12 percent), while winter wheat showed a plus of 3 percent and clover grass a minus of 8 percent.
More efficient water use in Arizona
Scientists from the University of Arizona planted chili, cherry tomatoes and jalapeño on a test area in the shade of solar panels. As a result, the chili harvest was three times and the tomato harvest twice as high as on conventional fields. Another interesting aspect is that the soil retained water and moisture longer and water consumption fell.
Protection for chickens and feed crops in China
As PV Magazine 2017 reported, the combination of chicken breeding and photovoltatics can make land use more efficient. Free-range chickens need a lot of space. Organic eggs are therefore associated with high costs. In China, solar modules not only create a further use of the land, they also provide shade for the chickens, ducks and turkeys. They also offer the possibility of installing protective nets to ward off birds of prey and other enemies. In Germany, the idea has already been adopted by some animal farmers. In Main-Franconia or Brandenburg, the shade of the modules also allows the grass to grow better, so that the poultry can find more food.
Vegetable production in India
Indian researchers have reported on their investigations with Abellon Clean Energy in 2018. A 3 MW solar plant was installed and vegetables were grown underneath. To maintain the efficiency of the solar collectors, they are regularly washed and freed from dust. The water used for washing was also used to irrigate the plants. With an agricultural production of 24 to 34 tons per hectare per year, 780,000 litres of water could be reused. At the same time, 250 tons of CO2 were bound in the vegetables produced. 250 tons of CO2 stored in vegetables is reused and 250 tons of CO2 stored in vegetables is produced as food.
Wine production in Piolenc
The Vaucluce Chamber of Agriculture in Piolenc created an experimental area of 4.5 ha for vine cultivation and investigated the use of solar collectors. Vines protected under an agrivolatic system proved to be much more resistant to heat waves.
Their water requirement was reduced from 13 to 12 percent thanks to lower evaporation. The wine aroma also improved: +13% anthocyanins (red pigments) and between 9% and 14% more acidity were detected.
Plant growth arrest was reduced and leaf burning was curbed.
Wines from the Pyrenees
The agrivolate facility was built in the western Pyrenees, on the Nidoléres Estate. The area has been in family use for eight generations and covers 32 hectares. Water consumption on the property has been reduced by 20 percent thanks to the solar modules. An improvement in the quality of the wine was also evident here: +13% anthocyanins and between 9 and 14% acidity.
The plants survived the heat wave of 2019 much better, the growth stop was reduced and leaf burning was contained.
Apple production in Mallemort
The La Pugère apple orchard in Mallemort in the Durance region is, like many others, struggling with climate change. 730 m3 of land has been converted to Agri-PV, 196 panels have been installed. The water stress of the trees protected by the dynamic agrivolatic system was 63% lower than that of the other trees in the control zone. In addition, cooler temperatures and thus better growing conditions were observed with deviations of up to 4°C.
Photosynthesis research in Japan
Scientists at Kyoto University in Japan and the CHO Institute of Technology have investigated the factors influencing the integration of PV panels on different crops. The light saturation point of each crop turned out to be a key concept. In fact, only a small fraction of the incident sunlight would be needed for the plants to reach their maximum rate of photosynthesis. […]. The researchers found that too much sunlight actually reduces plant growth. Daily exposure to hard ultraviolet radiation can seriously damage plant DNA. As with other areas, it was confirmed that the shade-providing function of the PV modules reduces water evaporation and leads to water savings of up to 29 percent. Moreover […] the daily air temperature and vapour pressure deficits remain constant, even for the area under the panels. PV modules also mitigate soil erosion by reducing evaporation of moisture”.
Shrimp farms in Vietnam
Scientists at Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg are not only testing how Agri-PV can affect plants, they also investigated how the breeding conditions for pangasius and shrimps in Vietnam change. Solar modules will be integrated into the roof of the shrimp farm. These will not only generate electricity, but also provide shade for the workers, offer protection from predators and ensure a stable and lower water temperature.
In today’s agriculture, monocultures are known to have had a negative impact on wildlife. Bees, as an affected species, are threatened with extinction. Monocultures and their short flowering periods as well as pesticides and extreme weather conditions have led to starving, disease-prone bees.
To solve this problem of bees as well as other pollinators, the “Flower-Power System” was developed.
Firstly, it consists of a combination of flower strips and fallow land, which provide pollinators with food and other field animals with a place to retreat. Windbreaking shrubs, the second part, also provide retreat possibilities and can help to reduce erosion and, in combination with water harvesting, water losses. The solar modules shown above not only provide shelter, but also sustainable electricity.
The natural biotope created by the “Flower-Power System” reduces the need for pesticides and increases the yield. In summary, the combination of technology and nature of this system makes a decisive contribution to sustainable agriculture and sustainable energy change.