What is Agrivoltaic?
Agrivoltaic means, that a solar park and agricultural land are combined on the same area to maximize the land productivity. It is a relatively new way of using solar technology together with traditional farming.
ENcome is operating a number of solar parks worldwide, on which the land besides solar PV is also used for farming purposes. Solar PV can generally be seen as a partnership between the investor, the operator and the land-owner / farmer. The farmers section off a part of their land for the use of the solar park. There are various ways in which the land can still be used, some functionalities are even enhanced by the installation of the solar park.
As the solar park is fenced off and rarely visited, it is an ideal enclosure for smaller creatures and more delicate crops to call a home. Biodiversity schemes have been introduced across a number of plants, which have been highly successful in reintroducing wildlife, but also providing a home so that protected species can continue in a safe space and not threaten the surrounding land.
Safety at Agrivoltaic parks
A number of parks entrusted to ENcome give a home to flocks of sheep. Incredibly curious animals, the parks have to be prepared before the sheep can enter; all cables below 1m have to be protected with ducting and cages, any cables above this height must be and stay secured to the structures. All of this needs to be checked regularly. In return the sheep help the solar park by keeping down the grass and stopping weeds from spreading, repelling other animals that could damage the plant (deer and rabbits) and keeping our engineers’ company. At project start our technicians receive an introduction by the farmers on how to deal with the settled animals, however they also follow a number of general safety rules that apply for agrivoltaic parks.
Agrivoltaic and biodiversity
Due to the protection of high fences, more delicate crops are being trialed in some of our parks. Organic chamomile has been planted to be used for tea and to increase the attraction to an insect population. This project has been bolstered by the introduction of bug hotels and wildflower areas planted in the park, with bird houses installed around the area. The local insect and bird populations have been positively impacted by this introduction, which in turn has helped the farm by introducing pollinators into the area, increasing the success rate of crops.
ENcome operates parks that have protected species inhabiting the area, including ground nesting birds, bats, lizards and snakes. Usually, the landowners cannot use the land home to protected species as crops require heavy machinery, animals can eat, stand on and disturb nests, and the land cannot be used for development. A solar park is a good option for landowners who are restricted as the whole area can be reserved for biodiversity management and set up to encourage protected species.
ENcome as partner for Agrivoltaic
The success rate of the biodiversity plans, introduction of farm animals, crops and wildlife attractions, have marked some of the plants under ENcome’s management as exemplar, encouraging the installation of an increased number of agrivoltaic measures. Also specialist companies and universities are using the agrivoltaic parks to study the impact of these measures in the area around the parks with respect to rebuilding local wildlife populations and positive impacts on the surrounding farm lands.
There are many ways a solar park can be used to promote wildlife and increase the production of the surrounding farmland. ENcome works with its clients in selecting the measures implemented, placing and maintaining them. As regular visitor to the solar parks we do see the difference between those parks that actively encourage the partnership with the farmers, to those that don’t, and we see the changes unfold when measures are in place.
Please contact us for more information on how ENcome can encourage biodiversity and agrivoltaic parks within your portfolio.
The ENcome Group is a leading independent service provider for the technical operation of photovoltaic power plants and the offering of respective engineering and advisory services. In managing and planning the power plants entrusted, the service of the ENcome Group focuses on maximizing short-term availability, production performance as well as long-term value.