Germany is launching an initiative to support solar projects on agricultural land, which the economy ministry estimates could lead to 200GW of additional photovoltaic development capacity.
The package announced jointly by the ministers of agriculture, Climate and environment will enable agricultural PHOTOVOLTAIC plants to be supported and promoted under the German Renewable Energy Law (EEG), enabling land to be used for both electricity generation and farming.
Agricultural wastelands could be used to install solar projects under EEG, as long as the land can be restored, and agricultural photovoltaic projects are also likely to receive funding from the EU common Agricultural Policy.
Cem Ozdemir, Germany's agriculture minister, said the proposals represented "a win-win situation for climate, nature and agriculture, as the three ministries have set out to ensure the best possible communication between agricultural needs, energy production and nature conservation".
Germany's new coalition government aims to generate 80% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030
The plans form part of an effort by Germany's new coalition government to generate more than 80 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources within nine years. In 2020, the figure is only 45%, and Germany is aiming for 200GW of pv capacity by 2030.
The Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft, the German solar trade association, recently warned that obstacles needed to be "dismantled" in order to reach the 200GW target. The association welcomed the government's agricultural PV proposals, but said there was a need to expand the current "very strict" framework on where new solar power stations could be built.
Carsten Kornig, CHIEF executive of BSW, said: "The proposals now submitted by the federal ministries are a step in the right direction, but they are not enough. Predictably, the lack of sites to build solar farms will be a barrier to investment."
A recently unveiled agricultural photovoltaic research project in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate is being used to explore how solar systems can protect plants and fruits from extreme weather.
BayWa R.E. and Fraunhofer Solar Systems Institute, renewable energy developers and partners in the project, are testing different photovoltaic module configurations to determine the impact on plant growth and crop yields.
According to SolarPower Europe, a trade association, the commission's new rules will encourage bidding for some renewables, including agricultural photovoltaics.