- What is the regulatory framework for agrivoltaics?
It's a method of coupling agricultural production with energy production. It's a unique way of creating beneficial synergies between agricultural activity and solar energy, on the same surface. Since March 2023, it has been governed by law (art. L. 314-36 of the Energy Code), which stipulates that it must provide at least one of its services to the plot:
- Improving agronomic potential and impact ;
- Adaptation to climate change;
- Protection against hazards;
- Improved animal welfare.
An implementing decree, currently being finalized, will specify certain criteria, such as the maximum coverage rate of panels in relation to the surface area of the plot, and the limit on the surface area that cannot be farmed as a result of the installation.
- What are the advantages of partnering with BayWa r.e.?
BayWa r.e. grew out of a Bavarian agricultural cooperative founded in 1923. Committed to renewable energies for over 30 years, we built our first agrivoltaic pilot plant in Germany in 2016, making us one of the pioneers in this field. The values and challenges of the agricultural world are an integral part of our DNA.
Today, BayWa r.e. offers a comprehensive range of services for the development of turnkey agrivoltaic projects, and stands on a solid financial footing. We systematically adhere to the highest, most rigorous quality standards at every stage in the life of a solar project: development, construction, operation, maintenance and dismantling.
- Could agrivoltaic systems jeopardize the economic viability of agricultural crops?
Agrivoltaics serves agricultural production. It's a production method that combines agricultural production with energy production. It's a unique way of creating beneficial synergies between agricultural activity and solar energy, on the same surface.
Since March 2023, it has been governed by a law (art. L. 314-36 of the Energy Code), whose implementing decree is currently being finalized (scheduled for the first quarter of 2024). This decree aims to prevent abuses and ensure that :
- Agrivoltaic technology does indeed provide a service to agricultural production,
- Agricultural production is maintained,
- Agricultural production remains the mainstay of production.
- Does the way the panels are installed make it difficult to work the soil?
Each project is tailored to the farmer's crops and equipment. The dimensions of the farm machinery are taken into account to define the height and spacing of the solar panels.
- Will my crops get enough water under an agrivoltaic system?
Water availability, insofar as it is influenced by the agrivoltaic system, is adapted to the growth requirements of the crop in question. We ensure that rainwater is distributed evenly to the crops below the agrivoltaic system. This process can be optimized with additional technical equipment.
- How long does it take to complete an agrivoltaic project?
The development required for an agrivoltaic project is the same as for a conventional solar project. It takes around 5 years from the signing of the Land Agreements (between the landowner and the energy company) to the commissioning of the park. This time frame includes environmental impact studies for the four seasons (1 year), the preliminary agricultural study, the time required for governmental approval (1 year) and the time required for connection (2 to 3 years).
- Can an agrivoltaic system be dismantled?
The dismantling of the farm, the restoration of the land to its original state (certified by a bailiff) and the recycling of the farm's components are legal obligations. This work and the costs involved are the responsibility of the project owner. The piles, driven into the ground, are removed.
Banks and Investors
- Is agrivoltaics a proven technology?
Agrivoltaics is not a new technology, but a new application of an existing, proven technology. The system is based on the engineering experience of BayWa r.e., which has installed over 1.2 GWp of photovoltaic capacity. The structure is maintained by BayWa r.e.'s operations and maintenance team, ensuring optimum operation throughout the project. The return, risk and administrative costs of a BayWa r.e. agrivoltaic system are comparable to those of an investment in our ground-mounted photovoltaic systems, because our experienced teams pay attention to every detail.
- What is the average lifespan of an agrivoltaic system?
Like our ground-mounted photovoltaic systems, our agrivoltaic systems have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years.
- Who is responsible for operating and maintaining an agrivoltaic system?
The experts at BayWa r.e. are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the agrivoltaic parks. Our operation and maintenance teams have many years' experience in wind and solar farms, with a total capacity of over 10.5 GW. Our supervision center monitors all installations 24 hours a day.
- What impact, if any, will agrivoltaic systems have on local residents?
Agrivoltaic installations, both the photovoltaic modules and the structures, do not reflect light. The risk of glare for local residents is extremely low. What's more, the systems don't emit any noise and can be installed very quickly (just a few weeks). Landscaping is designed to limit the visual impact on direct neighbours (planting of hedges, etc.).
Taxes relating to the installation of a solar park generate public funds for the commune, the community of communes and the département.
- What is the potential for agrivoltaic installations in France and around the world?
The Plurinannuel de l'Energie (Multiannual Energy Plan), which aims to move away from fossil fuels by 2050 (which currently account for over 50% of our energy consumption), has set a milestone target of 100 GWp of solar power installed in France by 2035 (compared with 18 GWp in the first half of 2023). With the potential for PV on roofs and parking lot shades estimated at between 23 and 53 GWp, it is imperative to expand the potential for agricultural land.
With agrivoltaic technologies enabling the installation of between 0.3 and 1 MWp per hectare, between 29 and 200,000 hectares of agricultural land will need to be equipped to meet our energy targets (i.e. less than 1% of French agricultural land). Agrivoltaics is 140 times more efficient than biofuel and 44 times more efficient than methanization in terms of surface area used.
Since 2014, almost 2,800 agrivoltaic systems have been installed worldwide, representing a total capacity of around 2.9 GWp. Most of these systems have been installed in Asian countries such as Japan, China and South Korea. A few have also been installed in the USA and Europe.
- How much does the energy cost of agrivoltaic systems compare with the energy cost of ground-mounted photovoltaic systems?
Agrivoltaics is currently more expensive than ground-mounted photovoltaic systems, as it is designed to promote and optimize agricultural production, sometimes to the detriment of photovoltaic production. In fact, the structures are raised to adapt to the height of crops, animals or machinery. Some panels are less powerful, to let in more light for the plants. Nevertheless, costs will continue to fall as technology evolves.