BayWa r.e. and its subsidiaries have built four pilot projects in Europe to support agrivoltaics research.
Ongoing research globally is examining how to best co-locate solar PV with agriculture for mutual benefits, which, in some cases, can include improved crop yields and land access. More research is necessary to find the right combination of variables, however, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
BayWa r.e.’s “fruitvoltaic” pilot projects in Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands aim to move the ball forward by improving fruit quality through research on plant health, growth, and production, while reducing waste due to plastic foil.
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In the Netherlands, together with its Dutch subsidiary GroenLeven, BayWa r.e has built two agrivoltaic research facilities in the villages of Enspijk and Randwijk in the center of the Netherlands with a capacity of 105 kWp and 125 kWp.
The cherry and pear pilots will be monitored by the Fruit Tech Campus and the Wageningen University & Research respectively. Both projects give the research institutes ample opportunity to test a variety of set-ups and their effects on the fruits.
In Austria, BayWa r.e., together with its subsidiary ECOWind, has completed a 340 kWp pilot for stone and pome fruit which was implemented together with the Haidegg research facility in Graz. Furthermore, BayWa r.e. and MKG GÖBEL finished construction of a 115 kWp raspberry pilot in Oedheim, in the South of Germany, with a light transmittance of approximately 70% and rainproof construction.
The research institute for Viticulture and fruit growing Weinsberg will be monitoring the quality of the fruit below the PV modules. With these pilots, BayWa r.e. keeps pushing the boundaries in fruit cultivation research via agrivoltaics and is thereby actively supporting evidence-based decision-making in business and politics.BayWa r.e. agrivoltaics pilot in Oedheim in the South of Germany (Copyright: MKG GÖBEL)
Funding bodies of the projects are the Dutch government, the federal state of Styria in Austria, and the federal state of Baden-Württemberg in Germany.
Stephan Schindele, head of product management Agri-PV at BayWa r.e., said part of the research will focus on the added costs of customizing a solar PV project to suit an agriculture site.
By the end of 2022, BayWa r.e. had developed and installed 15 agrivoltaics projects in the European Union. In 2023, the first agrivoltaics projects will be built outside the EU and new “Rangevoltaic” applications added to its portfolio, in which animal husbandry for cows and sheep is combined with agrivoltaics.