Green electricity above, crops below: RWE plants seedlings at its agrivoltaics demonstration plant

Things are turning doubly green at RWE’s agrivoltaics plant (Agri-PV) in the Rhenish mining area. Since the beginning of the year, around 6,100 solar modules have been generating green electricity, and now farmers have sown the first seeds and planted crops on the site.

On the approximately seven-hectare recultivation area on the edge of the Garzweiler opencast mine, RWE is using three different concepts to test how solar power generation and agriculture can go hand in hand – successfully and profitably.

In the first configuration, the solar modules are fixed and mounted vertically on the substructure. In the second concept, the modules are mounted on a movable axis, which allows them to follow the course of the sun from east to west. Last week, farmers from the RWE recultivation team sowed alfafa and a mixture of clover and grass between the rows of modules. These plants prepare the soil for the cultivation of cereals, root crops and vegetables in the coming years. In the third solution, the modules were elevated on a pergola-like substructure. Below this, a farmer from the region has planted raspberries in pots. Among other things, this form of cultivation enables healthy plant growth with high yields and more predictable harvest times.

RWE intends to carry out important applied research at its demonstration plant. To this end, the interaction between plant growth and PV technology will be observed over a period of at least five years under different seasonal weather conditions. The aim is to develop suitable management methods and economic operating concepts for agrivoltaic systems on the basis of the knowledge gained.

Scientific support for the project is being provided by the Institute for Plant Sciences at the Forschungszentrum Jülich and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems. The project is funded by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia via the programme for climate protection and the energy transition.

From June 19 – 21, RWE will be presented at Intersolar Europe, the leading trade fair for the solar industry, with its own exhibition stand (A4.520) and conference contributions.