Global challenges & their impact on nature and agriculture
Along with the rapid rise in temperature, comes a multitude of risks and challenges, affecting the environment, the global economy, and the livelihoods of humankind. The drastic weather events impact all areas of the world, including Europe. Last Summer was on record as the hottest and driest summer in Europe, causing scorching heatwaves, affecting the water reserves, decreasing soil moisture, and harming wildlife. In parallel, our planet is experiencing high losses of habitats, degradation of soil and water pollution due to human-induced activities – all of which are vital for human well-being.
Photo: © ENERPARC
In the past year, Europe has also experienced an energy price spike, induced by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and thus impacting fossil fuel prices. High energy prices have a sobering effect on all energy-consuming sectors, including the agricultural sector, impacting socio-economic security in rural areas.
Agrisolar offers solutions to co-locate energy generation with providing multiple ecosystem services. Agrisolar is a market sector where sustainable agriculture practices are combined with PV installations and aim to improve environmental and socio-economic benefits for the farm, and its territory. The deployment of solar panels on agricultural sheds, or the use of solar electricity to power agricultural machinery, not only allows to decarbonise the electricity on a farm but also creates additional revenues for the farmer. Agrisolar encompasses Agri-PV, a dual-land use technology that co-locates solar PV on farmland in harmony with agriculture and nature. These can include but are not limited to solar PV greenhouses, PV installations above crops, or solar PV placed on land where animals graze.
Photo: © BayWa r.e.
Agrisolar provides opportunities to develop renewable energy in harmony with agriculture and nature. It addresses the current global challenges and provides sound and sustainable solutions. Some of the benefits of Agrisolar include:
- Land use efficiency: co-location of PV systems with agricultural activity allows to increase land productivity. An increase of 186% in land efficiency is estimated on a site where PV installations have been combined with potato cultivation.
- Water efficiency: Agri-PV installations can reduce water usage for irrigation by decreasing evapotranspiration due to PV panel shading. Water can be reduced by 20-30%, as seen in the monitoring of three operational Agri-PV sites.
- Biodiversity enhancement: Agri-PV parks can provide habitats for wildlife. Installing pollinator habitats not only can benefit local biodiversity, but can also provide ecosystem restoration services (e.g. crop pollination).
- Socio-economic benefits: Agri-PV installations can protect crops from severe weather events such as droughts, direct sunlight, and hail. In addition to crop protection, Agri-PV not only can ensure the preservation of agricultural activity, but in certain cases can also increase crop yield. Data obtained from two Agri-PV sites in Greece and Spain, show an increase in crop yield by 30% for eggplants, 18% for strawberries, 60% for peppers and 40% for forage.
Solar energy generation can work as a supplementary revenue source for farmers and support the transition towards decarbonisation of the agricultural sector. Deployment of Agrisolar can facilitate job creation in rural areas and provide new qualifications.
By creating stability and certainty through the right policy frameworks, Agrisolar can be supported to develop even further in Europe and across the world.
Photo: © Akuo