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Agroscope

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Pioneer Agri-PV comparative study

Renewable energies
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The challenge

In Agri-PV systems, solar panels are installed above or alongside crops, allowing farmers to harness solar energy while continuing their agricultural practices. The panels can be mounted on structures like stilts or frames to provide adequate sunlight for the crops beneath and to ensure they are not shaded excessively. The system is designed to strike a balance between maximizing electricity generation and maintaining crop productivity. This approach is gaining popularity worldwide as it provides a solution for sustainable energy production while addressing the challenge of land scarcity and competing land use priorities. Agri-photovoltaics demonstrates how technology can be creatively combined with traditional agricultural practices to foster a more sustainable and resilient future. In Switzerland alone, it is estimated that arable lands could produce up to 120 TWh if equipped with Agri-PV installations. 

As the implementation of this technology is relatively recent, there have been limited large-scale comparative studies conducted on its practical application. Consequently, the full extent of the aforementioned benefits and the actual economic viability of such installations remain largely theoretical. This lack of empirical data deters farmers from assuming the risk of investing in this novel setup.

In Agri-PV systems, solar panels are installed above or alongside crops, allowing farmers to harness solar energy while continuing their agricultural practices. The panels can be mounted on structures like stilts or frames to provide adequate sunlight for the crops beneath and to ensure they are not shaded excessively. The system is designed to strike a balance between maximizing electricity generation and maintaining crop productivity. This approach is gaining popularity worldwide as it provides a solution for sustainable energy production while addressing the challenge of land scarcity and competing land use priorities. Agri-photovoltaics demonstrates how technology can be creatively combined with traditional agricultural practices to foster a more sustainable and resilient future. In Switzerland alone, it is estimated that arable lands could produce up to 120 TWh if equipped with Agri-PV installations. 

As the implementation of this technology is relatively recent, there have been limited large-scale comparative studies conducted on its practical application. Consequently, the full extent of the aforementioned benefits and the actual economic viability of such installations remain largely theoretical. This lack of empirical data deters farmers from assuming the risk of investing in this novel setup.

120 TWh

Potential energy production of arable lands in Switzerland if equipped with Agri-PV installations.

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The solution

The agricultural company, bioschmid gmbh, headquartered in Gelfingen (LU), plans to build a pilot Agri-PV installation above raspberry crops. In collaboration with the agronomic research station Agroscope in Conthey (VS), three different Agri-PV technologies will be studied to protect the raspberries from adverse weather conditions. The pilot installation also aims to contribute to the energy transition by generating eco-friendly and sustainable electricity. Approximately 500,000 kWh of solar electricity will be produced each year, covering the electricity needs of around 110 households. The Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) will focus on optimizing electricity production.

« The pilot installation also aims to contribute to the energy transition by generating eco-friendly and sustainable electricity. »

With a size of 7200m2, this pilot installation at the bioschmid gmbh farm is the first Agri-PV installation of this scale in Switzerland, building on the smaller research projects previously conducted by Agroscope in Conthey.

Thanks to the three different technology types and the adjacent reference area (plastic tunnels), this project is optimal for developing a sustainable Agri-PV solution for agriculture and society. This project will deliver precious data regarding the use of different types of Agri-PV technologies allowing to foster the deployment of Agri-PV in Switzerland.

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