Europe’s biggest renewable energy project using PV modules above fruits has started construction in the Netherlands. BayWa r.e., along with its Dutch subsidiary GroenLeven, are behind this trailblazing 8.7 MWp Fruitvoltaics development.
In the province of North Brabant, Maarten van Hoof’s farm is about to host 24,206 solar panels fixed above his crops. “Overhead” PV modules will let his raspberries continue growing, while also generating enough power for 2,810 homes. A 2020 pilot on the same site set the background for this project. After successful results, van Hoof chose to fit his entire raspberry crops with solar panels. The project is expected to be finished by the first quarter of 2024.
By using farmland to produce both crops and renewable energy at the same time, Agri-PV presents a persuasive sustainability opportunity and a great example of multifunctional use of space. Limited land, more extreme weather, growing demand for solar power; wider uptake of Agri-PV can help Europe meet these challenges.
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.”
Success in Meierijstad was possible thanks to government subsidies and investment from the farmer himself. With that assistance, the project can begin to make a compelling business case for Agri-PV in Europe. Wider political support would, of course, accelerate the process.
“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,” said 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.”
To date, BayWa r.e. has realised 14 Fruitvoltaic projects in EMEA. The renewable energy company has also started construction of an “interspace” Agri-PV project in Spain, where rows of PV modules are installed parallel to growing crops. It also actively supports the extension of solar grazing and biodiversity PV to leverage synergies between PV, agriculture as well as nature protection.
To learn more about the innovative solar application, meet the Agri-PV experts from BayWa r.e. at the Intersolar trade fair in Munich (hall A4 / booth 180 +181).