Fre­quent­ly asked questions

Agri­vol­taics or Agri-PV is a method of genera­ting solar ener­gy while still enab­ling far­mers to pro­du­ce food or feed on the same farm­land. This still young form of rene­wa­ble ener­gy pro­duc­tion eli­mi­na­tes the incre­a­sing com­pe­ti­ti­on for land bet­ween agri­cul­tu­re and the ener­gy indus­try. It the­re­fo­re makes an important con­tri­bu­ti­on to grea­ter cli­ma­te pro­tec­tion and food secu­ri­ty. At the same time, Agri-PV streng­t­hens far­mers by offe­ring them addi­tio­nal inco­me oppor­tu­nities through the genera­ti­on of green electricity.

But this dou­ble har­vest is not the only advan­ta­ge: the par­ti­al roofing of the crops offers bet­ter pro­tec­tion against exces­si­ve heat, hea­vy rain, hail and frost. Espe­cial­ly in the case of sen­si­ti­ve crops such as ber­ries, this addi­tio­nal pro­tec­tion is remar­kab­le in the face of cli­ma­te chan­ge, while many other crops have even seen incre­a­sed yields. 

Valu­able ara­ble land always remains agri­cul­tu­ral land with Agri-PV, while genera­ting a second return in the form of electri­ci­ty at the same time. This is the cru­cial dif­fe­rence to a ground-moun­ted PV, which does not allow dual use sin­ce no more agri­cul­tu­re can be car­ri­ed out under­ne­ath. Ano­t­her dis­tin­guis­hing fea­ture is that the land does not have to be rede­si­gna­ted as com­mer­cial land. This faci­li­ta­tes per­mits and also offers tax advan­ta­ges. Agri-PV thus repres­ents an important com­po­nent for the plan­ned expan­si­on of pho­to­vol­taics by 80 per­cent in Ger­ma­ny in the com­ing years, as the avail­ab­le land for clas­sic ground-moun­ted PV is alrea­dy beco­m­ing scarce.

We do not seal the ground with our sys­tems as we use a paten­ted tech­no­lo­gy: the Spinn­an­ker. This sub­struc­tu­re allows the instal­la­ti­on of the sys­tem without having to lay con­cre­te foun­da­ti­ons in the soil. While 15 per­cent loss of area is legal­ly per­mis­si­ble for the assem­bly of the modu­les, our sys­tem con­cept only requi­res 8–10 per­cent thanks to this tech­no­lo­gy. This has bene­fits for bio­di­ver­si­ty as well, becau­se we can com­pen­sa­te a lar­ge part of the­se are­as by plan­ting flowe­ring strips.

Far­mers should ensu­re need for food as opti­mal­ly as pos­si­ble, while at the same time we want to gene­ra­te green electri­ci­ty. By enab­ling both on the same area, our PV-sys­tems can pro­du­ce not less, but more food. Sim­ply becau­se less land is lost to ener­gy pro­duc­tion. As an addi­tio­nal bene­fit, we pro­tect agri­cul­tu­re from crop fail­u­res cau­sed by cli­ma­te chan­ge. This crea­tes a win-win situa­ti­on bet­ween food secu­ri­ty and the ener­gy industry.

The plants are never com­ple­te­ly cove­r­ed, so the yield can basi­cal­ly be con­trol­led by the degree of shading. Due to the high poten­ti­al offe­red by Agri-PV, many stu­dies are being con­duc­ted world­wi­de in order to gather long-term infor­ma­ti­on. In Ger­ma­ny, for examp­le, the Frau­en­ho­fer Insti­tu­te is rese­ar­ching this field, with whom we are in clo­se contact.

Bifa­cial, i.e. trans­lucent glass-glass modu­les, like the ones we use, have pro­ven par­ti­cu­lar­ly effec­ti­ve for homo­ge­ne­ous light manage­ment and high ener­gy out­put. With shade-tole­rant plants such as pota­toes or spi­n­ach, an incre­a­se in yield has been obser­ved. Sen­si­ti­ve fruit crops also do well with Agri-PV, pro­tec­ting the har­vest from heat dama­ge and other extre­me wea­ther events, as they now occur more and more fre­quent­ly in our regi­ons, too.

The con­cept of our sys­tem types was deve­lo­ped in clo­se con­sul­ta­ti­on with far­mers and agri­cul­tu­ral machine­ry coope­ra­ti­ves. While a span of 12 metres was cho­sen for our first pilot sys­tem, expe­ri­ence has shown that this span is only suf­fi­ci­ent for small farms. The­re­fo­re, in the new ver­si­on, we have opted for a clearan­ce width of 18 metres and a clearan­ce height of 6 metres. This allows the use of most con­ven­tio­nal lar­ge agri­cul­tu­ral equipment.

Agro­So­lar Euro­pe is spe­cia­li­zed on the field of agri­vol­taics. Due to the amount of know­ledge nee­ded to com­bi­ne agri­cul­tu­re and solar ener­gy tech­no­lo­gy we focus on that. Howe­ver, our sys­tems can also cover car parks. This is done by our part­ner Hil­ber Solar with 30 years of expe­ri­ence in the market.

When it comes to roofing motor­ways, the­re are still many safe­ty and prac­ti­cal aspects to con­si­der cur­r­ent­ly still under inves­ti­ga­ti­on. The­se ran­ge from pos­si­ble vehi­cle impact sce­n­a­ri­os to ques­ti­ons of main­ten­an­ce or snow clearan­ce. Moreo­ver, from a length of 80 m, the sup­por­ting struc­tures would have to be clas­si­fied simi­lar­ly to tun­nels, which is why the con­struc­tion would have to meet hig­her safe­ty requi­re­ments, which in turn would make the cos­ts more expen­si­ve. But we are also kee­ping an eye on this with our part­ner Hil­ber Solar. 

We sup­port the con­sis­tent expan­si­on of solar tech­no­lo­gy. That means we also sup­port the con­sis­tent expan­si­on of roof sur­faces with solar tech­no­lo­gy. The Ger­man government wants to expand pho­to­vol­taics by 80 per­cent to 200 giga­watts by 2030. Not every roof is sui­ta­ble for solar expan­si­on, just as not every agri­cul­tu­ral area is sui­ta­ble for Agri PV. The­re­fo­re, a mix of all solar opti­ons is nee­ded. Agro­So­lar Euro­pe has spe­cia­li­zed in Agri PV in order to con­tri­bu­te to the ener­gy transition.

Anyo­ne who wants to lea­se out land for an agri-pho­to­vol­taic sys­tem (agri-PV) can claim dif­fe­rent tax rules for inheri­tance, gift and pro­per­ty tax. This is becau­se land on which pho­to­vol­taic sys­tems is loca­ted, which are to be desi­gna­ted as cate­go­ry I or II agri-pho­to­vol­taic sys­tems accord­ing to DIN SPEC 91434, is con­si­de­red agri­cul­tu­ral and fores­try pro­per­ty. This means: They are sub­ject to pro­per­ty tax class A.

Accord­ing to this cate­go­ri­sa­ti­on, are­as with ground-moun­ted pho­to­vol­taic sys­tems do not fall under cate­go­ries I or II accord­ing to DIN SPEC 91434. The­re­fo­re, they are to be assi­gned to the immova­ble pro­per­ty which, accord­ing to Ger­man tax law, is sub­ject to pro­per­ty tax class B.

Agri-PVs are defi­ned as plants with the fol­lowing cha­rac­te­ris­tics, among others:

  • Agri­cul­tu­ral pro­duc­tion as main use
  • Electri­ci­ty pro­duc­tion via PV sys­tem as secon­da­ry use
  • Yield of the crops after the con­struc­tion of the Agri-PV sys­tem equals at least 66 % of the refe­rence yield
  • for Agri-PV sys­tems of cate­go­ry I: ele­va­ti­on at clear height (min. 2.10 m) and agri­cul­tu­ral cul­ti­va­ti­on under the system
  • for cate­go­ry II Agri-PV sys­tems: ground-level ele­va­ti­on and agri­cul­tu­ral cul­ti­va­ti­on bet­ween the rows of systems.
  • The loss of usable agri­cul­tu­ral land due to super­st­ruc­tures and sub­struc­tures must not exceed a maxi­mum of 10 % and for cate­go­ry II max. 15 %.

The ten­an­cy agree­ments for open space PV usual­ly run for a peri­od of 30 years. In many cases, it can be assu­med that after the end of the lea­se peri­od, the area of an open space PV will lose its ara­ble sta­tus and grass­land con­ver­si­on will only be pos­si­ble against compensation.

The lea­se peri­ods for land for an agri-pho­to­vol­taic sys­tem are usual­ly iden­ti­cal. But the area never lost its ara­ble sta­tus during the lea­se peri­od, as it was used for agri­cul­tu­re throughout.