Agrivoltaics project – opportunities for energy and agriculture
In the future, photovoltaics and agriculture could coexist on the same land and lead to increased profitability, with new opportunities for both energy companies and farmers. Researchers at MDU together with various stakeholders are exploring the possibilities of what is called agrivoltaics in a new project.
The starting point for the four-year project Solbruk i Skåne (Agrivoltaics in Skåne). is to investigate how solar electricity production and agriculture can be conducted on the same land in an efficient way. Previous tests carried out both abroad and in grassland cultivation in the Mälardalen region, show positive results, but this project wishes to explore how agrivoltaics can work in Skåne County, in southern Sweden. The project will be conducted with broad cooperation between the academy, industry and the public sector.
Bengt Stridh is a Senior Lecturer and Project Manager at MDU. His research team has previously conducted a similar project on a smaller scale External link., at Kärrbo farm outside Västerås in Mälardalen. He explains what distinguishes the new project from the previous one:
“This project is in a different place where there is a different climate. Other crops may be suitable for cultivation there, such as sugar beet which is not relevant for growing in Mälardalen. The photovoltaic facility will be significantly larger than the one in Kärrbo. Therefore, we hope to study several different crops simultaneously, which means that we can more quickly obtain results regarding which crops are suitable for growing together with a photovoltaic system.”
Major impact on several stakeholders
It is hoped that the project will produce several positive results and effects.
"We wish to demonstrate how agrivoltaics can be done in the best way in Skåne, where we will optimise the combination of photovoltaics and agriculture. We also hope that the demonstration facility plant, which will now be built, will prove that solar farming is a future business opportunity for Skåne's landowners, farmers and photovoltaic companies.
The results could have a major impact on both farmers and companies in the energy and food industries.
“As the County Administrative Board has said no to several solar parks in Skåne, where most want to build on agricultural land, this project could show how the conflict between agriculture and increased electricity generation could be resolved. In addition, agrivoltaics could contribute to increased profitability for agriculture, which is important if we are to maintain our agricultural industry and at the same time be able to increase our Swedish degree of self-sufficiency in food.
Over the past two years, there has been growing interest in building solar parks in Sweden. One of the obstacles to rapid development is finding suitable locations to build the facilities, where proximity to a suitable grid connection is another essential issue, says Bengt Stridh.
"If the conflict can be resolved between agriculture and solar electricity production, a multi-billion market for solar parks will open up in Sweden.”
Info about the agrivoltaics project in Skåne
Region Skåne is the project owner and in addition to MDU, the project partners are the County Administrative Board of Skåne, Energikontor Syd, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the research institute RISE, with a total project budget of approximately SEK 20 million. Approximately SEK 8 million is being financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). An additional SEK 12 million is being financed by the project organisations, of which approximately SEK 8.5 million is from Region Skåne and SEK 1.45 million is from MDU.