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Source: SolarPower Europe

German agricultural sector ready to harness photovoltaic potential

A study conducted by the University of Göttingen and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE suggests that the majority of agricultural businesses in Germany are open to the concept of agricultural photovoltaic energy (“Agri-PV”) and can envision its utilization. The research team evaluated responses from 214 farmers in an online survey.

According to these data, 72.4% of them envision using agricultural photovoltaic energy for their business. The most important motivations include the additional source of income through electricity generation and the sustainable development of the business.  "More than two-thirds of the farmers surveyed seem to be convinced of the fundamental benefits of agricultural PV," says Charlotte Bühner, a PhD student at the University of Göttingen and one of the main authors of the study.

Among the farmers who would be willing to use agrivoltaics, 18 people indicate that they are by now planning to install a system and two farmers already use agrivoltaics. Another 18 people are ready to purchase a system in the next twelve months, 32 people would purchase a system within three years, and 85 people would take this step in the next five years.

Furthermore, the study reveals that lack of confidence in the new technology does not represent a major obstacle; farmers believe that agri-photovoltaics can help them prepare their businesses for the future. "More than the synergies that can arise between the Agri-PV system and crops, the additional source of income from electricity seems to be the focus of farmers' attention at the moment," adds Johanna Wagner, also an author of the study and a scientist. at Fraunhofer ISE until the end of 2023.

According to the ISE, respondents considered the bureaucratic effort and the legal framework conditions, which were seen as opaque, to be particularly problematic. There is also uncertainty about the extent to which PV agricultural systems could hinder soil cultivation.

"In our opinion, in order to successfully implement PV in the long term, a meaningful involvement of agricultural stakeholders is of vital importance," says Dr. Max Trommsdorff, head of the agro-photovoltaics group at Fraunhofer ISE. "Therefore, gaining a better understanding of the opportunities and risks from the perspective of agricultural companies is an important field of research for us."



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