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global case study

Netherlands

Albers

Fruit farms can be perfect locations for solar photovoltaic installations. Not only will farmers be able to generate renewable electricity, but they will also be able to improve yields and see their fruit crops like apples and soft fruit  protected by the solar panels from extreme weather.

2.67 MWp of installed capacity
10,250 solar panels
3.3 hectares of raspberries

global case study

Nederland

Albers

Fruit farms can be perfect locations for solar photovoltaic installations. Not only will farmers be able to generate renewable electricity, but they will also be able to improve yields and see their fruit crops like apples and soft fruit  protected by the solar panels from extreme weather.

2.67 MWp of installed capacity
10,250 solar panels
3.3 hectares of raspberries

Dual Benefits


We wanted to test how fruit production and renewable electricity generation could go hand-in-hand,  and have been working with farmers in the Netherlands to see what can be achieved.

Fruit farming represents an important part of the Netherlands’ agricultural sector. The climate there supports a range of crops, from raspberries and strawberries to apples and pears. But at the same time, it can be challenging for farmers to protect their crops from extreme weather such as hail, rain and strong direct sunlight. Climate change is creating increasingly extreme weather conditions, so farmers are naturally interested in new solutions that will help them protect their harvests and income.

Fruit crop protection structures that are most commonly in use today don’t survive harsh weather and are vulnerable to daily wear and tear. As a result, farmers are faced with costly and time-consuming repairs, replacement, and disposal of such structures. 

By installing solar panels to ‘roof over’ areas where fruit is grown, farmers would be able to protect their crops from the weather and generate green electricity. This would enable them to contribute towards reducing carbon emissions and there would be great potential for using land for both growing food and generating renewable electricity!

Quote

BayWa has been supporting farmers with agricultural services for close to 100 years, and Agri-PV is very close to our hearts. Farmers can double up the use of their land and can better protect the crops, while producing less waste, less labour and less investment cost

Stephan Schindele, Head of Agri-PV, BayWa r.e.

Piet Albers Pilot Study


We are committed to finding new opportunities for renewable energy generation, and Agri-PV represents one solution. It  offers a dual role for land already in agricultural use by bringing benefits of crop growth and protection, along with power generation.

To explore what could be achieved, we set to work with our Dutch subsidiary, Groenleven, on a pilot project. Following on from the success of the pilot, we launched a project with the Piet Albers fruit farm in Babberich. Our focus for the project was the 3.3 hectares of raspberries grown there.

The result was one of the largest Agri-PV projects of its kind in Europe, with the installation of no fewer than 10,250 solar panels. These can generate up to 2.67 MWp of renewable energy.

We also needed to ensure that as well as protecting the raspberries from any weather extremes, the technology we employed enabled the crop to access sufficient sunshine and rain, helping to maximise any growth and yield potential.

Addressing this challenge, BayWa r.e. designed a unique semi-transparent solar module. This allows just the right amount of sunlight to pass through for the plants, without impacting solar panel performance.

Thanks to the Piet Albers pilot study , we were able to show that the climate under the panels created better air circulation than that achieved by traditional systems. The panels also produced more favourable lower temperatures and were more efficient at protecting crops from the weather.
 

More to Come


This important project was a first on such a scale for Europe and for us - a great example of how we always seek to rethink energy. 

Having taken into account the particular needs of fruit production, the bespoke mounting structure and panel design we’ve developed will generate enough clean energy to power almost 1,250 homes.

With an eye to the potential presented by other fruit crops, we have also teamed up with Wageningen University (WUR) to run four more test projects which feature berry crops including redcurrants, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries.

The four projects will help us explore and monitor the effect solar panels have on these fruits. Sensors will monitor the climate under the panels, and we’ll also be monitoring plant health and fruit growth throughout the projects.

It may be a relatively new renewable energy solution, but we’re proving Agri-PV has much to offer. As well as supporting soft fruit farmers, we’re excited to be working with apple and pear producers to help them unlock the dual benefits.

We will be developing further pilots that will further demonstrate how Agri-PV can protect crops, encourage yields and generate renewable electricity – a win-win situation all round.

We want to show that through research and monitoring, Agri-PV projects not only promote the use of solar panels with crops, but also demonstrate a positive impact on them. Showcasing how they improve the quality of the fruit and reduce the cost of its production - enabling farmers to play a role in helping to address the challenges of decarbonisation.

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