Substantial synergy effects
for the energy and farming industry

In order to achieve Austria’s climate target of only consuming electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, the use of photovoltaics needs to be expanded to as much as 11 TWh. There is also an urgent need to utilise open spaces to produce solar power in order to be able to create the additional generation capacities required. Agrophotovoltaics play a key role here as they offer an incredible opportunity to exploit land for both energy-producing and agricultural ends. Wien Energie will invest EUR 480 million in adding 600 MW of photovoltaic output by 2030, in doing so also focusing specifically on the construction of innovative agrophotovoltaic systems to help with the energy system transformation in rural areas.

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Background information

Agrophotovoltaics combine free-standing PV systems with agricultural production, thereby making it possible to produce foodstuffs and energy at the same time. On the one hand, the PV panels can be mounted horizontally at a height of a few metres to enable the ground to be cultivated and farmed using agricultural machinery. On the other hand, vertical bifacial modules can be built which convert sunlight from both sides into solar power, thereby not building over the surface.

Combining the dual functions of agricultural and electrical production enables greater yields. Ingenious utilisation concepts means that agrophotovoltaic systems can boost land efficiency by over 60 percent, and not lead to surfaces being sealed off, as is often incorrectly assumed. The farmer also receives income for allowing such systems to be built on the land, as well as being able to utilise the electricity provided.

Agrophotovoltaic systems are a way of protecting the soil. They reduce the amount of direct sunlight hitting the ground, as well as exposure to UV rays, reduce water consumption and protect the soil from drying out. Agrophotovoltaics also improve the resilience of plants, as the changes to the amount of light, humidity and temperature reduce the level of heat stress experienced by the plants. The PV systems also serve as a way of protecting crops from hail. Crops and livestock in arid regions especially can benefit from the shade provided by such systems.

Kasimir Nemesthoty

“Only if we manage to join forces and work together to advance renewable energy technologies in an optimum way will we be able to cut the amount of harmful emissions produced when burning fossil fuels to the extent required. This means that we need to think ahead and develop new uses for PV systems in addition to ones that are integrated into buildings. Safeguarding the supply of high-quality foodstuffs and of renewable energy from the region is a major factor behind our efforts.”

Kasimir Nemestothy, Head of the Energy Department at the Austrian Chamber of Agriculture

Our demands

In order to take advantage of these substantial synergy effects for agriculture and the energy system transformation, incentives must be created to build PV systems on open spaces deemed eligible. This requires the establishment of a funding framework and a less complicated process to obtain permits for building systems.

Rough estimates suggest that the potential for agrophotovoltaics in Austria is over 27 GWp. In order to be able to harness this incredible potential, pilot projects must first be set up to illustrate in practice the many positive effects for Austria’s farming operations. Pilot projects could be financed from a special fund created to promote renewable electricity generation from innovative PV systems (e.g. structurally integrated systems, agrophotovoltaic systems or floating PV systems).

In order to give sufficient impetus to agriphotovoltaics, simplifications to the process for obtaining permits to install and run agrophotovoltaic systems are needed. Furthermore, installing PV systems on land used for farming must not result in funding provided as part of the Austrian programme for environmentally-friendly agriculture (ÖPUL) being stopped. The compatibility of funding for installing agriphotovoltaic systems, as well as ÖPUL funding must be guaranteed so as to preserve land use.

Further information

Your contact person

Lisa Henhofer
Lisa Henhofer

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