Agrivoltaics: can we combine energy, sustainability and employment?

Can solar panels and crops exist alongside each other? What are the advantages of photovoltaic plants for the areas where they are installed? We will tell you what agrivoltaics is and explain its environmental and socioeconomic benefits.

Herds grazing around the Carmona photovoltaic plant in Seville.
Herds grazing around the Carmona photovoltaic plant in Seville.

According to a study published in the journal Nature, the entire world's demand for electricity could be met if just 1% of the area used for agriculture was combined with the production of solar energy.

This alone gives us an idea of the importance of applying the system known as agrivoltaics: a combination of solar energy production with agricultural use. The idea is to integrate energy, sustainability and employment. And contribute to fighting climate change. 

 

What is agrivoltaics?

Agrivoltaics, also referred to as agrophotovoltaics and agrisolar, involves taking advantage of the same land for both solar energy production and agricultural production.

“The entire world's demand for electricity could be met if just 1% of the land used for agriculture was combined with photovoltaic production”.

The installation of solar plants on agricultural land makes the soil more humid and protects it from direct sunlight. This creates a more conducive environment for growing some plants.

And by transferring water from crops to the environment, more beneficial spaces are generated for the operation of solar panels.

But the benefits of agrivoltaics extend beyond agricultural use and preserving biodiversity: it also creates value for local communities, improving access to energy and fostering social and economic development.

 

Jobs in photovoltaic plants

Governments the world over are prioritising the development and rollout of renewable energies. This is not only to reduce emissions and meet climate targets. These projects also deliver socio-economic benefits. As the energy transition accelerates, the creation of new jobs is a tangible benefit that is attracting increasing interest.

According to figures from annual reviews by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) global employment in renewable energies has been growing since 2012. The latest annual report, covering 2021, estimates that there are at least 12.7 million jobs in this sector. 

Photovoltaic technologies are generating the greatest number of job opportunities, with 4.29 million of these 12.7 million jobs being related to photovoltaics, followed by bioenergy and hydroelectricity.

Evolution of global renewable energy employment by technology, 2012-2021.
Evolution of global renewable energy employment by technology, 2012-2021.

Evolution of global renewable energy employment by technology, 2012-2021

Graph

Million jobs: 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12.

Years: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

 

Legend

Blue: Photovoltaic

Green: Bioenergy

Light blue: Hydropower

Orange: Wind energy

Pink: Solar heating/cooling

Dark green: Other

In 2021, there were 89,644 workers linked to the photovoltaic sector in Spain, according to the Annual Report from the Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF). This industry also generated more than 3.5 million euros in exports, 23% more than in 2020, with photovoltaics making a direct contribution of almost 5 million euros to Spain's GDP.

These figures demonstrate that photovoltaic plants are an income-generating activity. This is particularly true in Spain due to the Tax on Constructions, Facilities and Works (ICIO), the Tax on Economic Activities (IAE), and the Tax on Real Estate with Special Characteristics (IBICES). Construction of one MW of solar-energy capacity generates around 76,000 euros over the useful life of the plant in the area where it is located.

 

Agrivoltaic projects

Agrivoltaics may seem like something new, but it was conceived by Adolf Goetzberger and Armin Zastrow in 1981, although it did not really start to take off until the last decade.

Endesa was a pioneer in applying this concept in Spain, in our plants in Valdecaballeros and Augusto in Extremadura, Totana in Murcia and Las Corchas in Andalusia.

We select specific activities for each of these agrivoltaic projects, assessing factors such as the ecosystem, land use and type, the availability of resources and climate conditions, in order to assess their agronomic viability and implement projects focused on the recovery, promotion and improvement of local ecosystems. 

Beekeeper working at the solar plant in Totana, Seville.
Beekeeper working at the solar plant in Totana, Seville.

These projects were subsequently joined by the Los Naranjos and Las Corchas plants in Carmona, Seville. These new plants added more than 250,000 photovoltaic panels and are hosting much-needed projects that create shared value to continue fostering employment and sustainability in local communities. One of the most widely recognised of these is our solar apiary. 

The latest project we are starting up is being developed in Andorra. This involves the hybridisation of solar and wind sources, energy storage and the development of green hydrogen projects to decarbonise the industries in the area. This will be a 'social crafts' project, involving a multitude of business and associative-cultural initiatives. 

Related content

advise icon go to the advise Facebook icon go to Facebook Twitter icon go to Twitter Youtube icon go to Youtube Messenger icon go to Messenger Linkedin icon go to Linkedin Instagram icon go to Instagram Shared Link icon Go to the shared link Checkmark Success icon Checkmark Success down arrow icon down arrow Previous Go to previous Next Go to the next close icon close add icon add up arrow icon up arrow oblique arrow icon look obliquely Arrow down icon Arrow down search engine icon search search engine icon search share icon share filter icon filter email icon send mail email icon email phone icon phone fax icon fac print icon print play icon play user icon go to the user section error icon an error has occurred info icon information thumb up icon like thumb up icon like thumb down icon don't like thumb down icon don't like clock icon Clock Lamp icon Lamp List icon List Map icon Go to the map Phone icon Phone Emergency icon Emergency Pause icon Pause Play icon Play Logout icon Sign off Phone icon Phone Download icon An icon representing a download Chat icon An icon representing a chat
go back icon go back in navigation number 50 icon go to product Tempo Happy 50 Horas calendar icon go to product Tempo Happy Día companies icon go to the business segment gas icon go to gas product catalog rising sun icon go to Tempo Verde-Renewable Energy product home icon go to the household segment 24 hours icon go to One Luz product electricity icon go to Luz's product catalog electricity and gas icon go to the Luz + Gas product catalog moon icon go to product One night light monkey wrench icon go to breakdowns and repairs sun icon go to Tempo Solar product clock icon go to Tempo Happy products 2 hour clock icon go to Tempo Happy 2 Hours product 24 hours icon go to product One Luz number 50 icon go to product Tempo Happy 50 Hours Medium Voltage power line See product catalog with electricity consumption from € 36,000 to € 360,000 / year High Voltage power line See catalog of products with electricity consumption more than € 360,000 / year company icon go to the business segment calendar icon go to product Tempo Happy Day Property management firms icon go to the Property management firms DarkSite icon DarkSite icon light bulb icon See product catalog with electricity consumption less than € 6,000 / year electricity and gas icon go to the Electricity+ Gas Products catalog electricity icon go to the electrical products catalog email icon email contact fax icon fax contact Low Pressure gas icon see catalog of gas products with consumption of less than € 6,000 / year High Pressure gas icon see catalog of gas products with consumption from € 6,000 to € 240,000 / year Medium Pressure gas icon see catalog of gas products with consumption of more than € 240,000 / year gas icon go to gas product catalog Enel icon go to the enel website heater icon heater maintenance service heater maintenance icon go to maintenance service OKGas Heater home icon go to the household segment pressure cooker icon pressure cooker monkey wrench icon go to breakdowns and repairs Medium Voltage power line icon see catalog of electricity products with consumption from € 6,000 to € 36,000 / year moon icon go to product One Night Light sphere icon go to personal website phone icon telephone contact rising sun icon go to Tempo Verde-Renewable Energy product solar panel icon go to photovoltaic solar energy clock icon go to Tempo Happy products black handyman icon with thumb down selected the reaction "I don't like it" little hand icon with thumb down select the reaction "I don't like it" black hand icon with thumb up selected the "like" reaction little hand icon with thumb up select the "like" reaction
Añadir otro equipo eléctrico Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Eliminar equipo eléctrico Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Aspiradora Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Horno Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Lavadora Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Lavavajillas Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Microondas Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Plancha Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Punto de recarga vehículo eléctrico Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Radiador eléctrico Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Secadora Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Split Aire Acondicionado Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Termo Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Tostador Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Vitrocerámica Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Power edit Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Map marker Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit.