With the right combination of solar energy and agriculture, the efficiency of using arable and grazing land can be increased up to 160%, says the Austrian company EWS Consulting GmbH.

Agrophotovoltaic systems differ from conventional ground-based solar power plants as they don’t only occupy open spaces but they also allow “collecting” electricity and food, both with a higher yield (some crops grow better with some shading).

The most famous supporter of agricultural photovoltaics ideas promotion is the German Fraunhofer Institute ISE. In its research projects, solar panels are installed over the fields in the form of canopies so that agricultural machinery can move freely under them. In another version, rows of vertically located photo modules are used, and it is also possible to cultivate the earth between them.

Working in that direction, EWS Consulting GmbH from Münderfing (Upper Austria) presented its technology – a turnkey, scalable solution based on modular assembly systems that can be quickly put right on the field and increase the economic efficiency of agriculture.

The configuration of the system, called “EWS-Sonnenfeld” (EWS Solar Field), allows to adapt the slope of the photovoltaic modules depending on the position of the Sun and, thus, to increase electricity production in European latitudes up to 18%.

With the gradual transition to renewable energy sources, the possibility of integrating SES with central networks is becoming increasingly important. The “solar field” just allows to smooth out consumption peaks at noon, which does not require the use of energy storage, stabilizes the network and provides an additional income if energy is sold directly.

The device of the system provides the ability to rotate the solar panels in horizontal position and, thus, the cultivation of the earth and its side effects such as bouncing stones do not damage them. Farmers can use special software and a smartphone to put the modules in the right position.

The decisive factor in this concept is the choice of the optimal distance between the rows of modules. On the one hand, it is necessary to provide enough space for agricultural machinery and, on the other hand, to ensure optimal growth for various crops. Thus, these distances can be adapted to the needs of specific land and plants.

An additional advantage of the system, according to the developers, is the creation of so-called “flower beds” on both sides around the supports for solar panels. They form ecologically valuable plots of land which are especially useful for insects and can become habitats for other species of flora and fauna. Besides, such “solar fields” can self-clean, levelling the negative impact of precipitation, such as snow in the winter.

source – here