BayWa r.e., along with its Dutch subsidiary GroenLeven have joined hands to start the biggest renewable energy project in Europe using PV modules above fruits. The construction has commenced in the Netherlands, with an impressive 8.7 MWp Fruitvoltaics development.
Maarten van Hoof’s farm in the province of North Brabant is embarking on an ambitious project that involves installing 24,206 solar panels above his crops. These “overhead” PV modules will allow the raspberries to continue growing while simultaneously generating sufficient power to supply 2,810 homes. Building upon the success of a pilot conducted on the same site in 2020, van Hoof has made the decision to equip his entire raspberry crop with solar panels. The project is scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of 2024.
Agri-PV opens up a compelling sustainability opportunity and serves as an excellent example of multifunctional land use by simultaneously producing crops and renewable energy. With limited land availability, increasingly extreme weather conditions, and rising demand for solar power, the wider adoption of Agri-PV presents is poised to be an excellent solution for Europe.
The success achieved in Meierijstad was made possible through a combination of government subsidies and the farmer’s personal investment. With this support, the project has established a strong business case for Agri-PV in Europe. However, further political backing would undoubtedly expedite the adoption of this technology.
Currently, BayWa r.e., has already implemented 14 Fruitvoltaic projects across the EMEA region. Additionally, they have commenced the construction of an “interspace” Agri-PV project in Spain, where rows of PV modules are installed in parallel with growing crops. The company actively promotes the expansion of solar grazing and biodiversity PV, leveraging the synergies between solar energy, agriculture, and nature conservation.
BayWa r.e.’s Head of Product Management Agri-PV, Stephan Schindele, commented: “In response to the energy, food and climate crisis, we need to allow multifunctional use of land and develop synergies. The expansion of solar should take place in harmony with agriculture and nature. There are a lot of impressive elements on display here on this flagship project. PV modules protect crops and provide a more resilient growing environment, while also cutting down on single-use plastic coverings. We’ve experimented in depth with the level of transparency PV modules needed in order to let light pass through to crops. Now, we can provide those conditions and generate power on this future-proof farm.”
“This development builds on a fruitful pilot, and other success stories in places like Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. In short, we know these initiatives work. The technology is proven, but policy needs to catch up,” added Benedikt Ortmann, BayWa r.e.’s Global Director of Solar Projects. “For Agri-PV to gain traction in Europe and realise real positive change, we need legislation and subsidies supporting us. The effects of climate change are becoming more and more apparent every day, and we can’t afford to miss this great opportunity for the energy and farming transition.”