Germany accelerates the deployment of solar photovoltaic on agricultural land

Germany’s new coalition aims for 80% renewable energy by 2030. Image: BayWa re

Germany is launching an initiative to support the construction of solar projects on farmland, a move which the Economy Ministry estimates could lead to the deployment of 200 GW of additional PV capacity.

A joint package announced by agriculture, climate and environment ministers will see agriPV power plants promoted by the German Renewable Energy Act (EEG), allowing land to be used both for the production of electricity and agriculture.

The moors used for agriculture could be used to install solar projects under the EEG as long as the land is restored, while agriPV projects could also be financed under the common agricultural policy (CAP) of the European Union.

Cem Özdemir, Minister of Agriculture, said the proposals represent a “win-win for climate, nature and agriculture”, adding: “Our three houses aim to ensure an optimal exchange between the needs agriculture and energy production as well as nature protection.

The plans are part of efforts by Germany’s new coalition government to produce at least 80% of its electricity from renewables in less than nine years, up from 45% in 2020, as it also targets 200 GW of installed solar capacity by 2030.

The German solar trade association Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft (BSW), which recently warned that the barriers will have to be “demolished” for the 200 GW target to be met, welcomed the government’s agriPV proposals, but also said it was also necessary to expand the currently “very restrictive” location framework for the construction of new solar parks.

“The proposals currently submitted by federal ministries are a step in the right direction, but they fall short,” said BSW CEO Carsten Körnig, adding that the lack of solar park locations “will likely become an obstacle to investment.

A recently announced The agriPV research project in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate is used to explore how solar systems can protect plants and fruits from extreme weather conditions. Project partners, renewable energy developer BayWa re and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, are testing different photovoltaic module configurations to identify the impact on plant growth and crop yields.

According to the trade association SolarPower Europe, new rules from the European Commission could encourage tenders specific to certain renewable applications, including agriPV.

Amalia H. Mercado