20 Jun 2024, 12:03
Julian Wettengel

Agri PV can make “major contribution” to Germany's solar expansion targets – study

Clean Energy Wire

The technical potential of solar PV installations on agricultural land (also known as agri PV) in Germany largely exceeds the potential of other so far unconventional PV technologies – such as floating PV or facilities covering parking lots – as well as the potential of rooftop PV and open-field PV, shows a study by researchers from Forschungszentrum Jülich and RWTH Aachen University. The analysis of agri PV revealed a high technical potential in Germany of between 3,215 GW(p) and 5,437 GW(p) and could therefore "make a major contribution to Germany’s target of 400 GW(p) of PV for achieving greenhouse gas neutrality in 2045," write the researchers in the scientific journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. They say that the use of PV on parking lots, water bodies or agricultural areas reduces land use conflicts by co-using land with renewable PV production. However, beyond the technical potential, policymakers would have to deal with other issues, such as crop eligibility, environmental impacts, local acceptance and economic aspects to define the future role of these technologies.

There are different designs of agri PV, including horizontally elevated agricultural PV systems, where agricultural activities are carried out beneath the PV modules, and vertically oriented agricultural PV systems, where such activities are conducted between the agri PV modules. The construction of agri PV can provide micro-climate benefits for some crops and further protect against extreme weather events, such as hail or drought, as well as reduce water consumption in warm regions, say the researchers. However, a key challenge is that the design of today’s farming machinery is not necessarily compatible with the construction of agri PV systems.

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