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10 Feb 2022, 13:51
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany to open agricultural areas to solar power in first move of renewables push

Clean Energy Wire

Several German ministries have launched a coordinated initiative to better use the potential locations for constructing new renewable energy installations. In one of the first legislative measures in the context of the new government’s climate action push, the Green Party-led ministries for economy and climate (BMWK), environment (BMUV) and agriculture (BMEL) have agreed to open up more agricultural spaces as well as moorland to solar PV installations. These so-called Agri-PV projects will be supported by Germany’s renewable energy law and reconcile spatial needs for energy and agricultural production, the ministries said. Areas that have an important role in conservation efforts are excluded from the initiative, they added. Support could also be made available in so-called "deprived regions" threatened by depopulation, as defined by the EU. Moorlands that could be used for renewable power should be rewetted in the process, as a prerequisite for state support. "We are a tabling a proposal today that can make a real contribution to expanding solar PV," economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said. The areas comprised in the measure would provide enough space for up to 200 gigawatts (GW) additional solar power capacity, an important step towards achieving the goal of 80 percent renewables in power consumption by 2030, he said. Agriculture minister Cem Özdemir called the proposal a "win-win-win for climate, nature and agriculture."

While Agri-PV projects do allow parallel use of areas for food and energy production, they also make solar power more costly, which would require  tailormade auctions for specific projects, industry group BSW Solar said. "Otherwise, the projected opening of locations for this kind of use might not lead anywhere." Complicated licensing and other restrictions may also thwart investments by farmers and other land owners ready to install solar power capacity, it added. The German Farmers’ Association (DBV) said it generally welcomes the idea of more Agri-PV, but would prefer not to use areas designated for food production. Instead, more solar panels could be installed on buildings and so-called conversion spaces, it suggested.

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