If agri-voltaic projects were to be installed on 1% of Europe’s agricultural land, a power output of over 900GW would be achieved.
PNRR has earmarked a total of EUR 2.6 billion for photovoltaics in agriculture, highlighting how this mode of electricity production can represent a concrete way forward for decarbonisation.
This fund is divided into two categories:
- 1.5 billion is earmarked for the so-called Agrisolar Park, the aim of which is to encourage the installation of photovoltaic panels on the roofs of agricultural infrastructures without consuming land (an estimated 4.3 million square metres for a power of about 0.43GW)
- 1.1 billion dedicated strictly to the development of agri-voltaics
The latter, namely technology that brings together and integrates energy production and agriculture, has several benefits
- thanks to the presence of the panels, protection of the cultures from atmospheric events
- supplementing farm income
- decrease in water requirements
- ccreation of new job opportunities in rural communities
- combating the abandonment of agricultural land
- increased soil moisture (which, in turn, improves plant growth)
- stimulating investment
- dual land use (both energy and agricultural production)
AgriVoltaic, each crop has its own solution
The implementation of an agri-solar system involves detailed planning of various aspects. It is important to identify which crops are most suitable for photovoltaics and, once identified, which type of solar system to use according to the crop.
Depending on the crop, it is possible to design the system in the best possible way, e.g. with only partial covers. Different plant configurations and modules must be thought out for each specific area and culture. The relationship of the installation to the landscape is also important.
An interesting example is the cultivation of blueberries and raspberries, which do well with alternating light and shade, and the roof panels reduce evaporation by about 1/4 compared to open field plants.
AgriVoltaic, position paper of 02 March 2022
In order to make it more consistent with the regulatory framework and adhering to technical standards already studied and adopted in other EU countries, this position paper has been drafted considering the definition in LAW 29 July 2021, no. 108 in which agri-photovoltaic systems are defined as those systems “that adopt innovative integrative solutions with the assembly of the modules high above the ground, also envisaging the rotation of the modules themselves, in any case in such a way as not to compromise the continuity of agricultural and pastoral cultivation activities, also allowing for the application of digital and precision farming tools” and the German regulation DIN SPEC 91434 “Agri-photovoltaic systems – Requirements for primary agricultural use”.
and pastoral activities, also allowing the application of digital and precision farming tools” and the German standard DIN SPEC 91434 “Agro-photovoltaic systems – Requirements for primary agricultural use”.
The two main configurations, identified in the position paper, concern an elevated and an inter-row agri-voltaic.
Agri-Voltaic, what is missing?
In order for agri-voltaics to reach its full potential, it first needs to be defined by the legislator in its many aspects, and then boundaries are needed within which to move from the point of view:
- energy production
- agricultural activity
- landscape impact
Such legislation, currently lacking, would require a dialogue between the two sectors involved, agriculture and energy.
A multidisciplinary culture will be needed and standards will have to be developed to define the two lines of development in the near future:
- independent electricity producers, who will implement large projects, preserving the agricultural/pastoral activity in agreement with local entrepreneurs in the sector
- agricultural entrepreneurs, who will implement smaller installations.