With its Dutch subsidiary GroenLeven, the company installed 2.7 MW of semi-transparent photovoltaic energy on 3.2 hectares of raspberries.

Photovoltaic solar energy and agriculture can coexist creating a true symbiotic relationship. This is demonstrated in Europe through projects large and small, determined to optimize agricultural yields and provide a new source of income for businesses.

One of the pioneers in this area is the company BayWa re which built the largest agro-photovoltaic power plant in Germany in 2016. We are talking about the pilot project of the Demeter farming community in Heggelbach. There, four years ago, 194 kW of solar panels were installed at a height of about 5 meters above the ground, under which celery, potatoes and winter wheat grew. In just one year, yields increased between 3% and 12%.

The success led the company to replicate its AgriPV model elsewhere in Europe, thus breaking its own record.

With its Dutch subsidiary GroenLeven, BayWa has built a new agro-photovoltaic mega-plant on Piet Albers’ farm in Babberich (Netherlands). The installation broke the German record with a power of 2.7 MW.

The farm has installed 10,250 solar panels on 3.2 hectares of raspberries; sufficient capacity to meet the electricity consumption of 1,250 households.

However, even then, energy production is not the only benefit sought by the initiative.

Careful monitoring during the pilot study showed that the climate under solar panels is actually more stable than traditional plastic arches. Modules result in a lower and more favorable temperature, which better protects crops against bad weather.

Stephan Schindele, AgriPV Product Manager at BayWa re.

The AgriPV revolution.

The Dutch factory required careful planning. The structure obviously didn’t have to completely obscure the crops for them to grow.

For this reason, BayWa has designed a unique semi-transparent photovoltaic module this allows some of the light to reach the plants, while protecting the crop from hail, heavy rain and heat.

In addition to agro-photovoltaic power from Piet Albers’ farm, GroenLeven collaborated with Wageningen University to study four other test projects related to growing red currants, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries.

Our new study will study the effect of solar panels on these fruits and the sensors will monitor the weather under the modules. In addition, we will constantly monitor plant health and fruit growth.

Stephan Schindele.

The AgriPV system, the company says, is not currently suitable for all countries, but creating space for photovoltaic power, without converting farmland, is a major challenge that BayWa will continue to face.

More information: www.baywa-re.com