Special solar panels for agrivoltaics

BayWa r.e. and its Dutch subsidiary, GroenLeven, are building five pilot agrivoltaic power projects in the Netherlands, where they are testing five different types of crops: blueberries, red currants, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries.

Image: GroenLeven

The largest of the projects is a 2.67 MW solar plant (shown in image) deployed on a 3.2-hectare surface devoted to raspberry cultivation. 

The two companies are not relying on standard PV modules for the project, as such products are considered unsuitable in an efficient agrivoltaic project. According to the interview of the project manager for AgriPV at GroenLeven, Willem De Vries, done by pv magazine they have used special monocrystalline solar panels that were produced to their specifications.

De Vries said the special requirements are related to transparency, as plants below the panels need to receive sufficient light, while being protected by a foil cover from direct sunlight, rain, hail and frost. De Vries said that the sunlight hitting the raspberries should not be too strong.

A large barrier to the adoption of Undercover Farming technologies in South Africa is the high energy demands of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). 
Solar PV has not been considered as a viable solution due to space constraints and the inability to use rooftop systems. Innovations like these hold large opportunities for the agriculture sector, particularly when considering the growing berries market, rising energy costs and loadshedding impacts. 

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