Agrivoltaic, a multipurpose agricultural system that combines crop production with solar energy production, is the subject of a new, extensive research project that will examine its possibilities. In addition to being co-financed by the Innovation Fund with DKK 22.8 million, the project is being developed in association with European Energy, Aarhus University, Copenhagen University, and Slagelse Municipality.
Solar panel installations on agricultural land have increased as the demand for renewable energy sources rises. However, due to its scarcity, agricultural land must also supply the world's expanding demand for food. In an agrivoltaic system, solar panels are placed over agricultural land so that crops can be grown and harvested sensibly underneath the panel while clean energy is produced. In a climate-changed world, this system has the ability to maintain increased food production while maintaining the production of renewable energy. This project seeks to address the numerous technological and financial issues that still surround agrivoltaics.
The project will investigate the potential advantages of agrivoltaic, including the simultaneous production of food and renewable energy, the extensive use of field robots, increased biodiversity, the system's technical and financial sustainability, and the acceptability of farmers and the local population. In order to examine the potential and difficulties of growing crops in the plant, as well as to track its performance over a five-year period, the project will involve the installation of a 2-hectare pilot plant on a typical eastern Danish agricultural area.
"We are thrilled to be a part of this project to grow and mature the potential of agricultural and energy production, laying the groundwork for larger projects in the future. According to Mads Lykke Andersen, Head of Solar Energy Innovation at European Energy, this project represents a significant step toward the creation of more sustainable and integrated methods to the production of food and energy.
"Solar panel installation on agricultural land has increased as a result of the present energy crisis and high energy prices. This occurs despite the fact that there is a finite supply of agricultural land that must also meet the world's fast rising food demand, said Johannes Ravn Jrgensen, a lecturer at Aarhus University.
"With this research, we have the chance to explore the potential for producing food and energy in a cutting-edge agrivoltaic configuration. We have placed a lot of emphasis on the fact that the recently installed agrivoltaic systems must help increase biodiversity, he added.
"Farmers and landowners are very interested in agrivoltaic systems. However, we don't yet know whether agrivoltaic systems can improve the economy for both the local community and the individual farmer. We will have a fascinating new opportunity to look at this thanks to the agrivoltaic project, said Sren Marcus Pedersen, a lecturer at Copenhagen University.
"We require more renewable energy, both globally and in Slagelse. I am pleased that Slagelse Municipality is taking the initiative and giving space for research that could lead to the creation of novel sustainable solutions that integrate the production of food and energy. According to Slagelse Municipality Mayor Knud Vincents, it is a chance to boost knowledge-based jobs in the municipality while simultaneously contributing to the solution of a societal issue.
The pilot plant will be installed at AU Flakkebjerg in Slagelse Municipality later in the year. The project is set to begin in April 2023. Once a rural zoning permit is obtained, the agrivoltaic system can be built. A decision is anticipated in the upcoming weeks, and an appeal period of four weeks will follow.