Solar power generation and agriculture are activities that apparently have little to do with each other. However, they have one point in common: land use. The installation of photovoltaic plants over large areas can compete in some cases with the development of local crops.
Optimising coexistence and collaboration between the agricultural and livestock sector and renewable plants is the objective of a pilot project promoted by the Enel group, of which Endesa is a part, in several countries, including Spain. It involves using the same land for the installation of solar panels and the cultivation of the soil, known as "agrivoltaic" land use, thus promoting the circular economy and the creation of shared value with the local community.
In Spain, we have started five pilot projects on the solar plants of Carmona (Seville), Totana (Murcia), Valdecaballeros and Augusto (Badajoz) and Andorra (Teruel). There have already been some “agrivoltaic” experiments initiated in our country by individual farmers, but Endesa's will be the first test by an energy group within large-scale farms.
“Sharing and not competing for land use with the primary sector is the best mechanism to achieve the long-term sustainability of our solar plants,” explains Inmaculada Fiteni, head of value creation programmes at Endesa's sustainability department. “In addition, it is a win-win formula, in which all the stakeholders involved are winners. In the first place, the farmer will have a perimeter within which the land is secure where they can cultivate at a competitive land price. As well as all the business related to this product that can be generated locally. And for the company, if the crop is well managed, cultivated land close to the panels entails lower maintenance costs by reducing suspended dust, lowering clearing costs, and possibly improving plant productivity by favouring a greater thermal difference between the soil and the panels”, Fiteni clarifies.