AgriPV

Agriculture and electricity generation

What is
agriPV?

Agriphotovoltaics or agriPV is an umbrella term for open-area photovoltaics concepts that enable photovoltaics and agriculture to share use of the same space.

Why agriPV?

Traditional agriculture and clever forms of power generation are not mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite: using agriphotovoltaics, farmers can take advantage of revenue from both foodstuffs and electricity. In addition, this dual use prevents competition for land between the food industry and electricity production, reducing the pressure resulting from an increasing shortage of space and land sealing.

The Next2Sun concept

AgriPV as a revenue model

Take advantage of multiple lucrative business models. Our Next2Sun agriPV concept is aimed at both energy providers and land owners – whether farmers, municipalities and communities, or companies. As well as private electricity generation using agriPV systems, we also offer interesting business models for these groups, ranging from land leasing through to revenue from electricity generation – whilst the land is also being put to other use.

Geschäftsführer Next2Sun Heiko Hildebrandt in einem Solarpark

Who is agriPV with Next2Sun suitable for?

Natur-Umwelt Icon

Open land owners

As an additional source of income for farmers, land owners, companies, municipalities

Anlagen Errichter - Energie Versorger icon

Energy suppliers

Inclusion of highly efficient agriPV systems in the electricity generation mix as a profitable business model

Icon Behörden

Municipalities & authorities

Information on planning and administration related topics for agriPV systems

Beteiligung - Invest Icon

AgriPV for investors

Investment in renewable energies relating to PV system technology and Next2Sun’s agriPV projects

Info point

General information about agriPV systems

Here you can find detailed information about the Next2Sun concept, areas of application, electricity yield (compared with south-facing PV systems), nature + environment, impact on the landscape, project planning, etc.

Request information

Interested in using agriPV?

1
Interest
2
Area
3
Your data

Do you have larger open spaces or are you a farmer or energy supplier and can imagine multiple use of the space through the use of Agri-PV?

Please give us some data about the area, cooperation model and your business

Possible Agri-PV area size (hectares) *
Lot number *
KG (area) number *
Usage currently *
Surface conditions *
Self assembly? *
Soil type *
Other type *
Your business area *
Interest in business model (multiple select possible) *

Finally, we need some data to contact you.
We will get back to you as soon as possible!

Your name *
Your email *
Phone no. *
Company *
Street name *
No. *
ZIP-code *
Place (town/city) *
Country *
Do you want to tell us anything else
Please confirm *
The Next2Sun agriPV concept

Create synergies with agriPV systems

Generate electricity, benefit financially, and continue to use the space for other purposes!

You can with agriPV – because agriPV brings the landscape and photovoltaics together. AgriPV systems are growing strongly and enable dual use of the land for both agriculture and energy production. In the past, ground-mounted PV systems competed with orchard cultivation or livestock keeping, but the Next2Sun concept now offers an ideal solution!

General Information about agriPV

Find key information and frequently asked questions about using agriPV here

Function

What makes agriPV useful?

Agriphotovoltaics is an umbrella term for open-area photovoltaics concepts that enable photovoltaics and agriculture to share use of the same space.

In densely populated countries like Germany and Austria, competition for land is becoming increasingly fierce between the energy and agricultural industries. To combat this, agriphotovoltaics concepts enable the logical and beneficial simultaneous use of available land, for both energy generation and agriculture. This hugely increases spaces efficiency.
Various investigations have shown that installing PV modules has a positive impact on agricultural yields, thanks to the shade and wind protection they provide. This creates a genuine win-win situation that both generates additional energy and benefits the farm.

Erntearbeien in der Agri-PV Anlage
Land suitability and properties

The Next2Sun agriPV concept

Agriphotovoltaics falls under the umbrella term ‘open area photovoltaics’ and covers concepts that enable photovoltaics and agriculture to share use of the same space.

The DIN SPEC 91434 technical rule ‘Agri-photovoltaic systems – requirements for primary agricultural use’ can be downloaded for free in various languages from the following link:
https://www.beuth.de/en/technical-rule/din-spec-91434/337886742

In densely populated countries like Germany and Austria, competition for land is becoming increasingly fierce between the energy and agricultural industries. To combat this, agriphotovoltaics concepts enable areas to be used simultaneously for both energy generation and agriculture, thus increasing space efficiency. Various investigations have shown that installing PV modules has a positive impact on agricultural yields, thanks to the shade and wind protection they provide. This creates a genuine win-win situation that both generates additional energy and benefits the farm.

We at Next2Sun AG have developed a vertical, stable, steel frame system for PV modules, consisting of two posts and three beams. These hold two stacked bifacial glass-glass modules. The total height of the frame is flexible and adaptable, and generally sits around three metres above the ground. The frame design was developed to ensure functionality, easy and flexible assembly, and a long service life. The patented post-and-beam system from Next2Sun Mounting Systems in particular minimises module shading thanks to the elevated system.

Together with the glass-glass solar modules used, the system as a whole also has a very long shelf life. The system is designed to meed high static requirements resulting in particular from wind loads. Project-specific adjustments enable it to be used virtually anywhere on the planet. The stand system can be used for agriPV concepts, but also in other areas, for example as a fence (solar fence) or a private consumption system.

The modules in our Next2Sun plant system are stood vertically. Special frameless glass-glass modules are used for this. These bifacial modules are light-sensitive on both sides. The vertical design of the modules with a row space of at least eight metres in between ensures a very low level of overbuilding of the area (ground space / overbuilding of the area approx. 5%). Conversely, more than 90% of the space remains available for agriculture use and environmental upgrades. By comparison, the overbuilding of the area for conventional south-facing systems sits at over 70% (= projected module area on the ground). If the clearance between the lower edge of the modules and the ground is 0.8 to 2 metres, there is no likelihood of any meaningful agriculture use.
In addition, the vertical design (particularly in an east-west orientation for the front and back of the modules) creates an innovative feeding profile, combined with an additional technical yield [kWh/kWp] compared with south-facing photovoltaics systems.

Our system enables dual use of the space for both solar power production and agriculture. This agriculture use can take the form of crop cultivation, pasture management, grassland management or environmental upgrades.

The Next2Sun APV concept can be installed in any azimuthal orientation. However, the ideal orientation is heavily dependent on the local conditions and will be recalculated for each new site.
The Next2Sun system concept reaches its full potential in an east-west orientation, meaning that electrical power is primarily generated in the morning and evening, at times of day when demand is highest. This also allows the highest prices to be achieved with direct marketing.
The Next2Sun system concept still achieves good electricity yields in other orientations.

Further information and answers to other questions you may have can be found on our agriPV FAQ page

Land suitability and properties

Allows multiple land use

Various forms of grassland use are available:

  • Hay meadows (hay or silage use)
  • Pasture farming (cattle, sheep or similar)
  • Biomass and material use
  • Arable land is also an option

As the bottom edge of the module sits around a metre above the ground, there is no issue with machine tilling of the soil. However, the crops cultivated should not significantly exceed a metre of growing height.

Up to 90% of the solar park area can still be used for agriculture. The gap of at least eight metres between the rows enables the use of standard agricultural machinery, ensuring efficient work management. This significantly minimises excessive land consumption.

Variable gaps between rows of at least eight metres enable various agriculture use concepts. The row gaps are individually determined based on the local requirements and economic considerations.

The open area system is suitable for grazing cattle, sheep or chickens.

Most crops will not be significantly impaired by the approximately 15% reduction in sunshine to the area, and could even benefit from it in very dry years. Examinations of growth in existing systems have already shown that improved water balance and wind protection thanks to greater shade led to significantly higher hay yields.

Further information and answers to other questions you may have can be found on our agriPV FAQ page

More yield from the same space

Electricity yield

Increased yields compared with south-facing roof-mounted systems:
The diagram opposite compares electricity yields throughout the day – a Next2Sun agriPV vertically aligned module achieves up to 15% higher yield. The space below the orange line is larger than that below the blue line.
This difference is particularly marked in winter months or when it is snowing, as the vertical surfaces of Next2Sun’s agriPV do not need to be cleared.

Grid-serviceable feeding profile offers increased revenue:
The east-west orientation means that systems using the Next2Sun concept feed in power when conventional south-facing PV systems have low production levels. This greatly lightens the load on power networks, particularly at lower voltage levels. Next2Sun systems can therefore feed in power even in areas where networks are running at near capacity from wind and conventional PV systems. The feeding profile of the Next2Sun system matches the daily curve of the electricity price on the electricity exchange. This means that our system also directly benefits from market activity. The typically lower electricity prices at midday and higher prices in the mornings and evenings mean that our systems using the Next2Sun concept achieve higher average revenue – we obtain market profits on the electricity market that are 5% to 10% higher than for conventional PV systems. Paired with higher yields, this means that the revenue per kW of installed system power increases by up to 25%.

The east-west orientation of the PV module rows means that electricity is primarily produced in the morning and evening. depending on the module type used, 5% to 15% higher specific electricity yields are achieved per kW. This means that Next2Sun systems are a long way ahead of traditional south-facing photovoltaic systems in terms of yield.

The east-west orientation means that systems using the Next2Sun concept feed in power when conventional south-facing PV systems have low production levels. This greatly lightens the load on power networks, particularly at lower voltage levels.

Next2Sun systems can therefore feed in power even in areas where networks are running at near capacity from wind and conventional PV systems.

The feeding profile of the Next2Sun system matches the daily curve of the electricity price on the electricity exchange. This means that you also directly benefit from market activity. Usually, feed-in at midday will achieve a lower price than in the morning and evening.

As a result, you will achieve an average of 5-10% higher annual profits with Next2Sun systems. Combined with higher yields from the east-west orientation, this can mean up to 25% more revenue per kW of installed system power.

Stromertrag süd-ausgerichete PV-Anlage
Stromertrag bifaciale Next2Sun PV-Anlage

The vertical, bifacial glass-glass modules are able to more effectively generate power from diffuse light (when skies are cloudy) than most monofacial modules. In addition, ground with a particularly high albedo (i.e. level of reflectivity) can offer even greater yields. Particularly bright substrates (such as snow) offer particularly high reflectivity.

The precise generation profile is dependent on numerous local parameters, making it impossible to state anything for certain. With our systems, we ensure that the generation profile suits the relevant requirements. In general, PV systems produce less electricity in the winter than in the summer as there are fewer hours of sunshine per day.


 loading=

The feeding profile of the Next2Sun system matches the daily curve of the electricity price on the electricity exchange. This means that our system also directly benefits from market activity. The typically lower electricity prices at midday and higher prices in the mornings and evenings mean that our systems using the Next2Sun concept achieve higher average revenue – we obtain market profits on the electricity market that are 5% to 10% higher than for conventional PV systems.

Further information and answers to other questions you may have can be found on our agriPV FAQ page

Profitability

Efficiency

Potential profitability and yields when feeding in to the power grid:
In an east-west orientation, electricity generation offers a higher daytime yield, primarily generated in the morning and evening, compared with south-facing systems. Combined with improved feed-in tariffs due to grid feed-in in the morning and afternoon, this further increases revenue. In addition, over the course of a year their are other positive effects compared with a south-facing orientation, which are unable to offer their full performance as a result of disruptions due to weather such as snow.

Diagram of Next2Sun agriPV electricity yield over the course of a day compared with conventional PV systemsPotential profitability and yields when feeding in to the power grid:
In an east-west orientation, electricity generation offers a higher daytime yield, primarily generated in the morning and evening, compared with south-facing systems. Combined with improved feed-in tariffs due to grid feed-in in the morning and afternoon, this further increases revenue. In addition, over the course of a year their are other positive effects compared with a south-facing orientation, which are unable to offer their full performance as a result of disruptions due to weather such as snow.

The installable power per area is lower than with south-facing systems due to the row spacing, but the area can continue to be almost fully used for agriculture, and lower lease payments are due to land owners.
The vertical elevation allows for the use of diffuse radiation, which makes up around 50% of all radiation in Germany, enabling more electricity to be generated per installed power than with conventional systems. In addition, higher exchange prices can be achieved outside of the midday generation peaks of south-facing systems, benefitting the system operator and offsetting the marginally higher costs.

The investment costs for turnkey installation of vertical Next2Sun systems are around 700 euros per (peak) kilowatt installed, including connection to the transformer station.
Compared with conventional monofacial south-facing PV systems, the costs for system installation are around 15% higher. The additional yield from direct marketing and the additional technical yield of vertical bifacial systems means that they offer additional revenue during the operating phase. The price difference between conventional PV and our system is currently around 20-25%. However, trends suggest that prices will drop further in the near future, putting cheaper bifacial modules on the market, with another positive impact on overall costs.

Next2Sun Projekt GmbH develops agriphotovoltaics projects at its own cost and risk. This is creating jobs all over Germany.

Once construction rights are awarded, primarily regional or grassroots investors are sought to operate the solar park for the long term. These may be cooperatives, individuals or municipalities. Regional utility companies or other companies are also considered.

If we have sparked your interest in financial involvement in a solar park, please get in touch with us.

The stated service life of a Next2Sun system is 30-40 years. This means that it is longer-lasting than conventional south-facing ground-mounted PV systems (25-30 years).

Further information and answers to other questions you may have can be found on our agriPV FAQ page

Soil conditions, flora and fauna

Nature, environment and impact on the landscape

As well as the aforementioned dual use by photovoltaics and agriculture, the Next2Sun system concept also enables environmental upgrades.
A habitat for diverse flora and fauna can be established in the non-agriculture-use areas below and right next to module rows via strips of grass and flowers. By adding strips of dead wood or stones beneath the modules, a habitat can also be created for birds, reptiles, fungi and so on.
In addition, the parallel module rows reduce ground-level wind speeds and thus soil erosion and drying, and the shade from the module rows can further combat drying of the soils.
Another way to improve the environment around the systems is to combine the installation with an extensification of agriculture use and help boost biodiversity even in agriculture-use areas.

The small level of overbuilding is a major benefit for bird life – from a bird’s perspective, almost the entire ground area remains directly visible.
There are initial indications that Next2Sun agriphotovoltaics systems are still being used as a habitat by birds of prey (red kite etc.). Additional monitoring at further sites is required to support these initial observations. For ground-nesting birds such as skylarks, the Next2Sun system – like all vertical structures – has a disruptive effect.

Positive: strips of grass boost biodiversity and thus insect habitats.
Negative: the heat from the systems may have an impact, but we do not yet know what it might be.

The low level of overbuilding involved in the Next2Sun system concept means there is no expected impact on soil properties.

No, because a species-rich environment beneath the modules and between the rows is encouraged. This will ultimately have a positive impact when mowing.

Further information and answers to other questions you may have can be found on our agriPV FAQ page

Environmental impact and protection from third parties

Safety aspects

Under normal operations, an N2S system poses no fire hazard. The modules do not reach temperatures that could mean a risk of fire (max. 43°C measured thus far).
As with any electrical system, a malfunction (short circuit / earth fault) may cause a hazard, which is taken suitably into account by the specialist planner.
A separate fire safety concept will therefore only be required if the specific features of the site necessitate it (e.g. due to increased risk of fire in the surrounding area).

The construction of Next2Sun systems means that they are generally very well secured against theft, as the modules are firmly rooted in the ground via the frame system. Only specialist staff will be able to disassemble it. In addition, Next2Sun system concepts are currently protected by a fence.

Our system is designed for up to wind load zone 2. As yet, no systems have suffered any storm damage.

Country-specific regulations apply. A PV system is an electrical system. In order to comply with safety requirements, the area must either be accessible only to specialist staff, or kept permanently safe.

Technical equipment such as inverters is also always closed off and the electrical components are doubly insulated. Using our solar fence as a fence would be an option, which must be clarified on a project-by-project basis.

In principle yes, but it is not recommended, as a ground-mounted system is fundamentally an ‘electrical operation room’.

Insurance costs for the system are broadly the same as for conventional systems.

Further information and answers to other questions you may have can be found on our agriPV FAQ page

Implemented agriPV projects

Projects and project workflow

Industrial agriphotovoltaics projects, like conventional ground-mounted photovoltaics systems, do not have privileged status outdoors. This means that a development plan must be drawn up with parallel changes to the land area use plan for development to go ahead. The municipality, as decision-maker, is therefore particularly important for the further development of solar power.

 

The planning process, through to being ready for construction, takes multiple months or even years and involves numerous public bodies and public interest parties. The Next2Sun Group’s system displays numerous benefits in the planning process, as the overbuilt area (i.e. the area not available for mechanical agriculture use) is extremely low at up to 5%.

 

Depending on the regional building regulations, successful development of a land-use plan is followed by construction approval or an application for exemption. Once all the necessary usage rights under private law have been settled and a binding feed-in point has been set, project implementation can begin.

Next2Sun can serve simply as a product/system supplier, service provider / project developer, or even as an EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contractor or operator.

The project is generally planned by Next2Sun – this ensures that we can incorporate our wide range of knowledge about vertical systems and avoid any serious errors.

The systems can be executed by an external plant constructor / general contractor. At this stage, if required we provide the building contractor with appropriate consulting services to ensure that the relevant aspects of a vertical agriPV system are also taken into account during execution.

For secured deconstruction, a deconstruction guarantee is issued to the land owner and/or the local municipality. This ensures via a bank guarantee that upon commissioning, a designated amount (e.g. 25 euros per kWp installed) is available for potential deconstruction. Furthermore, under both urban planning regulations and private law, the operator is obliged to restore the site to its original condition at the end of the operating life.

Further information and answers to other questions you may have can be found on our agriPV FAQ page

Project participation

AgriPV as an investment model

There are currently three options for financial participation:

 

Further information can be found on our website under “investments”

In terms of early involvement in the project process, there is an opportunity for various stakeholders and interested parties to present their concerns regarding the project. In addition, during project planning and implementation we also offer optional information events and live demonstrations of the technology on site, giving local populations an insight into agriPV and our system concept. As part of this, we are happy to incorporate locals’ suggestions and concerns into our project planning.

Further information and answers to other questions you may have can be found on our agriPV FAQ page

AgriPV interest groups

Natur-Umwelt Icon

Open land owners

As an additional source of income for farmers, land owners, companies, municipalities

Anlagen Errichter - Energie Versorger icon

Energy suppliers

Inclusion of highly efficient agriPV systems in the electricity generation mix as a profitable business model

Icon Behörden

Municipalities & authorities

Information on planning and administration related topics for agriPV systems

Beteiligung - Invest Icon

AgriPV for investors

Investment in renewable energies relating to PV system technology and Next2Sun’s agriPV projects

Successful
agriPV projects

Drohnenaufname im Next2Sun Agri-PV Solarpark Donaueschingen
Donaueschingen-Aasen solar park, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Energy yield: 4,850 MWh/year
Next2Sun Agri-PV Solarpark Eppelborn-Dirmingen
Eppelborn-Dirmingen solar park, Saarland
Energy yield: 2,150 MWh/year
Agri-PV mit bifacialen Solarmodulen im Solarpark Channay in Frankreich
Channay solar park, France
Energy yield: 256 MWh/year
Agri-PV Testanlage Next2Sun bifaciale Photovoltaik Module Valpuiseaux Frankreich
Valpuiseaux solar park, France
Energy yield: 124 MWh/year

Do you have any other questions?

More information about agriPV and agriPV systems can be found on our FAQ page.
And of course, you can get in touch with us directly!