A unique project that combines solar energy with keeping crops healthy has proven to be a more efficient use of land in Germany. The so-called agrophotovoltaic system may be the future of solar power in Germany and elsewhere.
Agrophotovoltaic – Pilot Plant at Lake Constance Combines Electricity and Crop Production
ENOUGH SPACE FOR RENEWABLE TECH
While it is possible to set up photovoltaic systems in individual homes, a great deal of solar energy still comes from solar farms. These facilities typically require a large number of solar panels to be installed over a huge stretch of land. In places like Germany, where agricultural land is rather limited, building solar farms while retaining space for crops can be challenging. With plans to go shut down all of the country’s nuclear reactors by 2022, there’s an increased and urgent need to find clean, alternative energy sources.
The APV-Resola project provides a working model that could easily be emulated in other parts of Germany and elsewhere. The project uses photovoltaic arrays with an installed power of 194 kilowatts, enough to supply energy to 62 four-person households. After only its first twelve months, APV-Resola produced 1266 kilowatt-hours of electricity per installed kilowatt, which is a third more than the country’s average 950 kWh/kW.
The next step for this concept is to prepare the APV system for commercial use. “In order to provide the necessary proof-of-concept before market entry, we need to compare further techno-economical applications of APV, demonstrate the transferability to other regional areas and also realize larger systems,” Schindele explained.