Why agriPV is of interest to you
There is no argument that the energy revolution is vital for as all as a result of climate change – with agriPV you can both play an active role in this and benefit from it. This is because leasing land for agriPV whilst also continuing to cultivate it ensures stable new investment income for you, as well as offsetting or cushioning the effects of weather or climate-induced yield fluctuations in agriculture. Farm both land and power!
AgriPV can be employed on almost all agricultural land – agriPV can be used for for grazing animals / livestock farming, grassland, and even arable land. Another key aspect is the fact that agriPV systems increase biodiversity in the area beneath the modules and thus improve soil quality, which often has a positive impact during increasingly common severe weather events.
The partial shade from the PV modules reduces the evaporation rate of the land – a factor that is becoming increasingly important, in particular given climate change. Furthermore, in arable farming, higher yields can be expected from shade-tolerant crops such as potatoes, spinach, carrots and so on.
Potential collaboration models
Four good reasons for agriPV
Whatever collaboration model is best for you, in all versions we will support you with all topics relating to your potential agriPV project and in particular tackle topics such as
a) Land suitability – what sites/areas are particularly suitable?
b) Drawing up a tailored agricultural use concept with land owners & managers. Also an option for livestock open areas.
c) Ensuring the greatest possible additional agricultural land use of at least 85% and compliance with requirements, e.g. enclosing land for chicken farming
d) Evaluating the project’s potential impact on agricultural subsidies
e) Considering any positive environmental impact for the land (new habitats around the module rows)
f) Possible special requirements due to agricultural use or animals by the PV, fencing
g) Yield assessment and concept with potential additional yield in sunny, dry years, as well as suitability for private energy consumption (if equipped with suitable storage facilities)
General information about agriPV
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AgriPV topics for different
In the course of a project, we will also handle all individual questions resulting from dual use as well as specific working widths between module rows, yield forecasts, remuneration and any funding, as well as environmental assessments and livestock safety, any planning permission, fencing, contamination/maintenance and so on.
Specific information regarding key detailed questions can also be found here.
These and other general questions are also answered on our FAQ page. And of course, you can get in touch with us directly!
You must keep around 0.5 metres away from the module rows. Grassland management can be up to 20 centimetres from the module row posts, if the tractor has onboard GPS support.
This far our systems have only been used for grassland farming. Farming machinery for this is equipped with suitable rubber lips, reducing the risk of flying stones to a minimum.
We have not yet identified any module damage following the mowing process. During the prototype phase, we deliberately provoked flying stones (including for potential installation next to roads) and no damage was detected.
In general, we agree in advance with farmers that they will not have to pay for small amounts of damage (e.g. up to 1000 euros).
The vertical orientation makes it difficult for soiling to be deposited and has a self-cleaning effect when it rains – a key advantage over a conventional system. The soiling level is of course heavily dependent on the type and scope of dual use. With grassland farming, numerous years of experience show that the modules do not need to be cleaned. The plant growth directly beneath the module rows simply has to be cut back once a year to prevent shading. Further investigations will show whether cleaning is required with intensive crop cultivation – however, we do not expect the cleaning requirements to be any higher than with conventional systems.
As for conventional PV systems, we have to install a fence around our system. This is required by insurance. However, we can install the vertical system as a fence. This avoids additional fence structures, making agriculture use easier.
AgriPV systems, like conventional PV systems, do not have privileged status outdoors. This means that in this segment as well, from a certain planned size, a development plan must be drawn up with parallel changes to the land area use plan. The low overbuilding of the area and the environmental upgrading and structuring of the area with grass strips below the modules offers benefits in terms of offset requirements – this is usually not required. In addition, another benefit of vertical bifacial systems is that the row orientation can be freely chosen, enabling optimisations as regards landscape and potential glare effects.
In the development plan, the area between the module rows is generally set as agricultural land. In Germany and other European countries (AUT, LU etc.), there are regulations stating that the farmer retains the key area payment for the majority of spaces within agriphotovoltaics systems. The milestone in Germany will be the implementation of GAP – the Direct Payment Implementation Ordinance – from the 2023 claim year, stating that 85% of the area within agriPV continues to be agricultural and will receive EU subsidies. The remaining 15% of the premium rights come from the operators of Next2Sun systems, by agreement.
Practical testing from recent years has shown that slight shading changes the agricultural yield in row space. During dry years this can result in increased yields (especially in grassland) due to a higher level of water being available to the plants. In damp and less sunny years, the shade could theoretically also reduce yields to an extent (particularly for crop cultivation). These effects could be stronger in more shaded areas (near to the modules). Further investigations will be conducted into this in coming years.
GPS-supported control for agricultural machinery is advisable within a Next2Sun agriPV system, as it enables the entire length to be worked at an optimum distance from the module row.
The string inverters are integrated into the vertical frame system. In addition, only transformer stations (approx. 2.5 x 3 m) are required above ground on the site. The power is transported from there to the grid connection point via an underground cable.
Currently, a lawnmower or grass trimmer is used to mow beneath the module rows. This involves high staffing costs, which we want to reduce in the future via tests with a cane cleaner. This device comes from orchard and vineyard cultivation and will automatically fold round the posts to mow. Mowing is performed once or twice a year.
First of all, it should be noted that any intrusion on the landscape with overbuilding and/or sealing of the ground must be counterbalanced. As the overbuilding of up to 5% the area (actually just 1% by the agriPV itself) with the vertical system concept is extremely low and the structuring of the agricultural area with grass strips below the modules offers environmental upgrading, all in all the environment in the area is upgraded.
No offsetting measures are generally required with the Next2Sun system concept. These are separate from functional compensation measures, which are considered in individual cases. These include measures to avoid glare effects and improve landscape integration, as well as to balance the habitats of individual bird species.
There has not yet been a final assessment of whether flower and grass strips are eligible for funding (e.g. Under EU greening measures or agri-environmental schemes).
The maximum building density is 15%. In addition, it must still be possible to work the area using standard agricultural methods, machinery and equipment.
We have had cattle grazing in our testing facility for two years. In our system, the cable wires are all run in the U-rail (middle crossbeam), ensuring that they are very well protected. Only the inverters require technical protection. This is generally achieved using a simple pasture fence stretched around the inverter. Horses behave similarly to cattle and do not pose a problem for the system. Projects have already been implemented in situations like these in Austria.
Thus far we only have experience with grassland farming. In the future, we are planning to establish research projects examining crops. However, we expect potatoes, various types of beets, carrots, legumes, special crops (with the exception of maize) and low-growing cereals (approx. 1 metre) to be very compatible with our system.
Agri-PV systems are basically very well suited for own energy consumption. Due to their generation profile, a significantly better generation-load overlap is achieved than with conventional southern systems. In general, attention must be paid to the individual requirements of the farm.
The lease payment that the operator may pay the land owner is based on the site’s installable power, as is also the case for conventional solar parks. If the row space is ten metres, the installable power using the Next2Sun concept sits at around 50% of the maximum installable power of a conventional south-facing photovoltaic system. As a result, in this scenario the lease would be 50% below the standard market lease costs for a conventional south-facing photovoltaic system on the site. There are of course other parameters that affect the lease amount, including grid connection costs and radiation levels.
The site owner receives land rent from the system operator and can continue to use approximately 90% of the area for agriculture.
Our system is not able to cover the same area with solar modules as a conventional system would. The lease costs are around 800 to 1200 euros per hectare. Farmers are also able to accept a lower lease amount because they are able to further cultivate the site – they can still cultivate 90% of the space whilst also receiving lease payments.
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.
A row spacing of 10 metres can be expected to produce a yield of approximately 0.4 MW per hectare.
This means space requirements of 2.5 to 3 hectares per 1 MW of power, with 98% of the space remaining available for agriculture use.
Further information and answers to other questions you may have can be found in our agriPV FAQ.
Successful agriPV systems and strong partners
When realising and implementing agriPV systems, we work with a range of reliable and experienced experts in the field of photovoltaics, solar power and renewable energy systems.
Do you have any other questions?
And of course, you can get in touch with us directly!