- Enel Green Power launches experimental projects in Europe to evaluate best conditions for PV and agricultural activities to co-exist
- Data collected from these projects in Greece, Spain and Italy will be compiled in an Atlas to support future decisions on using best farming solutions for solar project sites
- The company is studying these projects, launched simultaneously in January 2021, in association with researchers, industry, start-ups and non-profits
The renewable energy arm of Italian energy group Enel Spa, Enel Green Power (EGP) has brought on board academia, industry, non-profits and start-ups to launch demonstration solar power projects to explore how agricultural practices can co-exist with PV plants.
The experimental projects, all in Europe and launched simultaneously in January 2021, are aimed at finding best farming and animal husbandry solutions to integrate with large PV plants, in order to foster sustainable land management without significantly modifying plant layout to contain costs and maintain competitiveness, it explained. Only those plant species will be grown that do not grow to beyond a certain height so as not to shade the panels.
Experimental projects are being carried out on both greenfield sites and on sites of decommissioned power plants being repurposed.
“These experiments will produce a huge amount of data that will be compiled in an Atlas to support future decisions, enabling new plants to select the best farming solutions and related business models based on the solar technology, the local climate and the analyses of the social, economic and environmental context,” said Head of Environment and Impacts Mitigation Innovation, Miriam Di Blasi.
Projects undertaken for this experiment include:
- Cultivation of aromatic herbs, flowers and mixes of plants capable of attracting pollinating species as well as bird species in installed nests at the Pezouliotika photovoltaic plant.
- Growing medicinal herbs for animal feeds within circular economy framework at Kourtesi project. Option of integrating chicken rearing activities is also being studied.
- Different species as artichokes, broccoli, zucchinis, eggplants, forage crops for animals, peppers, pitaya, medicinal and aromatic herbs, to attract pollinators being tested at the Totana, Valdecaballeros and Las Corchas sites.
- Different species of herbs and forage crops, cucurbits and combinations of plants that attract pollinators to be tested at the Bastardo thermoelectric plant currently being decommissioned
- Focus on mint, legumes, asparagus and saffron at the site of Montaltodi Castro thermoelectric plant, also being decommissioned. Addition of rearing local populace of Verde Leprino rabbits also being evaluated.
Europe is seeing a growing interest in agrivoltaics with another energy company Total actively exploring the space through its group company Total Quadran (see French & German Partnership For Agrivoltaics). In November 2020, RGreen Invest and Sun’Agri said they will raise €1 billion to deploy solar panels for 300 agricultural farms in France to help them improve yield and deal with climate change (see €1 Billion To Be Mobilized For Agrivoltaics in France). In autumn 2020, Europe’s solar sector association SolarPower Europe published a white paper on Agri-PV: how solar enables the clean energy transition in rural areas.