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BayWa explores use of solar modules on cropland

BayWa and Wageningen University examine how the use of solar modules on cropland can be successfully combined with the cultivation of various types of berries.

BayWa is enhancing its focus on the construction of agrophotovoltaic (AgriPV) systems in Europe. Following completion of the largest European AgriPV system at a raspberry farm in Babberich, Netherlands, the next four projects are in planning.

Solar modules on cropland

In cooperation with Wageningen University, Netherlands, the company plans to examine how the use of solar modules on cropland can be successfully combined with the cultivation of various types of berries.

BayWa says that by “roofing over” agricultural land, farmers can protect their crops from the effects of extreme weather conditions due to climate change while also contributing to climate protection and decarbonisation by producing green electricity. This dual use of land for growing food and generating energy has tremendous potential, especially for permanent fruit and wine crops, states the company.

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Aerial view of Piet Albers fruit farm in Babberich, Netherlands: measuring 3.2 hectares, the AgriPV park in Babberich is currently the largest in Europe. - Photo: BayWa
Aerial view of Piet Albers fruit farm in Babberich, Netherlands: measuring 3.2 hectares, the AgriPV park in Babberich is currently the largest in Europe. - Photo: BayWa

10,250 solar modules on a 3.2-hectare raspberry field

The AgriPV park in Babberich, which BayWa built in partnership with its Dutch affiliated company GroenLeven, has an output of 2.7 MWp and consists of 10,250 solar modules on a 3.2-hectare raspberry field. The modules generate enough energy to supply roughly 1,250 households with green electricity while raspberries grow beneath them, making dual use of the land.

Semi-transparent type of solar module

For the project, BayWa developed a semi-transparent type of solar module that lets through enough light for the raspberry crops while protecting them from extreme weather, including hail, heavy rain and direct sun.

Until recently, Piet Albers, the manager of the raspberry farm in Babberich, Netherlands, had relied on conventional tunnels made of protective films to keep his crops safe. The tunnels had to be regularly taken down and disposed of every six years. AgriPV is now helping the farmer to save time and money while reducing waste.

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While raspberries grow beneath them, 10,250 solar modules generate enough energy to supply nearly 1,250 households. - Photo: BayWa
While raspberries grow beneath them, 10,250 solar modules generate enough energy to supply nearly 1,250 households. - Photo: BayWa

Sensors to monitor crop health and fruit growth

The effect of solar modules on other types of berries – such as redcurrants, blueberries, blackberries or strawberries – is being investigated as part of four further AgriPV projects. The climate under the solar modules is being monitored using sensors, as are crop health and fruit growth.

BayWa says it’s also working with apple and pear producers to develop additional pilot projects. The aim is to further promote the use of AgriPV in Europe and to demonstrate that innovations such as these help to improve fruit quality, reduce water evaporation and lower production costs in fruit growing.

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