Agrivoltaics: Innovation and funding in the European Union

Agrivoltaics: Innovation and funding in the European Union

At the heart of the European Union’s sustainability policies, agrivoltaics emerges as an innovative solution. This technology combines solar energy production with agriculture, optimizing land use and increasing energy efficiency.

What is Agrivoltaics?

Agrivoltaics is a system that integrates solar panels on agricultural land. These panels not only generate clean energy but also provide shade and protect crops from extreme weather conditions.

Benefits and challegenges

Agrivoltaic systems offer multiple advantages:

  • Renewable Energy Production: The solar panels generate electricity without emitting CO2.
  • Improved Agricultural Productivity: The shade from the panels reduces water stress in crops.
  • Efficient Land Use: Combines energy generation and agricultural production in a single space.

Despite its benefits, agrivoltaics faces several challenges:

  • High Initial Cost: Installing the systems can be expensive.
  • Need for Research: More studies are needed to optimize designs and interactions with crops.
  • Variable Regulations: Regulations can differ significantly between regions.

European Funding for Agrivoltaics

The European Union has recognized the potential of agrivoltaics and offers various forms of funding and support.

Grant Programs

Major European funding programs like Horizon Europe issue calls that provide funds for agrivoltaic projects. These include funds specifically aimed at innovation in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture.

Tax Incentives and Credits

In addition to grants, some countries offer tax incentives. These can significantly reduce the installation and operation costs of agrivoltaic systems.

Success Stories in Europe

Numerous projects in Europe demonstrate the success of agrivoltaics.

Spain: A Leader in Agrivoltaics

Spain has positioned itself as a leader in the field of agrivoltaics, with several operational projects that show an increase in agricultural and energy productivity. An example is the SUSTAINEXT project coordinated by NATAC. This project has a budget of €22,406,559 and has received funding of €13,996,379. The SUSTAINEXT project will industrially produce six sustainable, locally sourced European raw materials.

Of these six materials, the project will grow three medicinal and aromatic crops (rosemary, chamomile, and lemon verbena) in Extremadura on unused tobacco fields as a healthier alternative, and also among solar panels (agrivoltaics) to improve land use.

Germany: Innovation and Technology

In Germany, the combination of advanced technology and supportive policies has enabled the rapid growth of agrivoltaics. An example is the LIFE22-CCA-DE-LIFE ADAPT-PV | LIFE Adaptation with Photovoltaics project coordinated by BAYWA R.E. SOLAR PROJECTS GMBH. The LIFE ADAPT-PV project, an initiative addressing the challenges of climate change in EU agriculture, particularly in fruit cultivation, proposes a solution through the installation of permanent steel structures with translucent photovoltaic panels over crops.

These panels not only protect crops from extreme precipitation and storms but also create a more stable microclimate, reduce the need for pesticides, and improve working conditions. The funding model of the project seeks to attract investments from the energy sector to agriculture, generating sustainable energy and reducing the use of plastics. To date, small-scale pilots have proven the ADAPT-PV concept, and the next step is to expand these trials to a larger operational scale in various European climates. BayWa r.e., a leader in innovation and the main beneficiary of the project, aims to expand implementation to 1,450 ha in five years, with an adaptation potential of up to 8,700 ha.

The Future of Agrivoltaics in Europe

The future of agrivoltaics in Europe is promising. With increased government support and continuous technological improvement, its adoption is expected to accelerate. Technological Development Continuous innovation is key to overcoming current challenges and increasing the effectiveness of agrivoltaic systems. Network Expansion As more European countries adopt this technology, a more integrated and efficient network of energy and food production is expected.

Agrivoltaics represents a revolutionary approach that addresses two of the most significant challenges of our time: energy security and agricultural sustainability. With the continued support of the European Union, this technology not only benefits the environment but also offers new economic opportunities for farmers and rural communities.