Agrisolar: making farming cool
As the world grapples with the increasing intensity of the climate crisis, water scarcity, food insecurity and biodiversity loss, our recent trip to an Agri-PV farm in the Netherlands offered a bright ray of optimism.
The SolarPower Europe team gathered (not so) bright and early to catch our coach to the Netherlands, where we met with our members BayWa r.e. and their subsidiary GroenLeven for a tour of their Agri-PV installation on a working fruit farm. Although the day was grey and wet to begin with, spirits were high and the grey skies began to clear.
Stephan Schindele, Head of Product Management Agri-PV at BayWa r.e., gave our group an introduction to the farm and the benefits of Agrisolar. This particular installation consists of 10,250 solar panels located over 31,000 crops of raspberries and a generation capacity of 2.7 MW.
Here are some of the reasons why Agri-PV works so well on this site:
- Raspberries need protection and are usually covered by plastic tunnels. By placing solar on top of the raspberries, the crops remain protected while also generating energy and reducing plastic use.
- Generally, plastic tunnels need replaced every 5-7 years. In comparison, the Agri-PV panels have a lifespan of up to 30 years.
- Plastic tunnels are vulnerable to hard winds, and often lead to farmers having to fix down broken covers multiple times throughout the year. This particular farmer noted that he sleeps much better now knowing the sturdy solar system will stay in place.
Agriculture can be an underappreciated sector at times, yet it is the lifeblood of our society. By the end of the decade, it is estimated that food demand will grow by 50%, yet climate change will cause a 30% decrease in the land available for food production. On top of this, the average age of farmers is increasing.
During the tour, Stephan summed up his thoughts on this: “We are going to be facing a big hunger problem if we continue on our current path. We need to make sure farming is an attractive career option; Agri-PV offers the possibility to work with innovative technologies and earn additional revenues.”
Agri-PV has been tried and tested over the past decade, showing incredible benefits when it comes to increasing crop yield, reducing water use and enhancing biodiversity. For a range of case studies, read out Agrisolar Best Practice Guidelines and check out or Agrisolar Europe digital platform.
After a tour of the site, our team got to taste the ripe raspberries. It is safe to say, Agri-PV tastes delicious!