SUNfarming Group develops and implements innovative agri-solar systems in the Rhineland

New development and implementation of a first research and demonstration plant by the Agri-PV pioneer for the Research Centre Jülich and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE as part of the structural change initiative BioökonomieREVIER.

PRESS RELEASE: Erkner/Heinsberg, 10.02.2022. SUNfarming Group AG is one of Germany’s leading project developers and investors in the field of solar energy and is also a pioneer in the development and operation of agri-photovoltaic systems. This type of plant enables the dual use of photovoltaics and agriculture through elevated glass-glass solar modules. This enables the farmer to cushion the effects of climate change, increase crop yields through higher-value crops and at the same time produce electricity himself. For many years, SUNfarming Group AG has been cooperating with the Institute for Plant Sciences at the Jülich Research Centre, both at the Jülich site and abroad, to research the development of different types of plants under the modules. In addition, the resulting contribution to the additional water supply of plants and soils is being investigated in order to be able to evaluate the influence gained from these innovative systems for plant production in climate change.

In a cooperative project between the Jülich Research Centre and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), SUNfarming was commissioned in 2021 to develop two new types of system and implement them at the newly developing Morschenich-Alt development site near Jülich. The first is a further development of the so-called SUNfarming Food & Energy System type with a higher clearance height of over 2.50 m and greater post spacing, which also enables the use of larger agricultural machines. The other is a so-called SUNfarming Food & Energy Tracking System as a special design with modules that track the position of the sun to increase yields and a total height of more than 6 m and a clearance height of 4 m. The latter is used to research different shading systems. The latter is used to research different shading scenarios for the plants as well as more efficient rainwater management to make crop cultivation more climate-sensitive.

After a development period of just under 9 months, the SUNfarming Group, known for its technical development services, was able to install the entire facility in Morschenich-Alt at the end of 2021. From completion in February 2022, the facilities will not only provide the framework for comprehensive research work on all aspects of plant cultivation in agri-solar systems, but will also produce approx. 300,000 kWh of solar energy per year, which, among other things, will supply the research site with sustainably generated energy and thus avoid the emission of over 140 t of greenhouse gas per year. SUNfarming Group AG has also founded SUNfarming West GmbH at the Heinsberg site in 2021 to expand its business activities in North Rhine-Westphalia and the neighbouring Benelux countries.

“We have already been working successfully with the Jülich Research Centre for many years, especially in the field of agri-photovoltaic systems,” explains David Morr, Head of Department for Food & Energy Projects at SUNfarming. “In this cooperation project between the plant scientists from the Jülich Research Centre and Fraunhofer ISE, we were able to contribute our high level of technical development expertise in the agri-solar sector, which we have acquired over many years in our own research and innovation park at the Rathenow site in Brandenburg. Based on the requirements of our clients, we were thus able to construct two food & energy plant types for Morschenich-Alt, which practically demonstrate new solutions for multiple land use, with regard to the production of solar energy as well as the cultivation possibilities for berry fruits, medicinal, oil and fibre plants under changing climatic conditions,” says David Morr.

Only about 20 km away from Morschenich-Alt, the first 5 megawatt SUNfarming eco-solar plant is currently under construction on a former gravel pit in Heinsberg. This plant is also the first of its kind in the Rhineland and is expected to be connected to the grid in April 2022. Further projects in the Heinsberg district are already being planned.

SUNfarming West GmbH
Am Vossenweg 2
52525 Heinsberg

Edith Brasche
Mobil: +49 152 536 169 93

Igor Hensing
Mobil: +49 172 214 3827
Tel.: +49 (0) 2452 / 988 786


FEED sustainable development projects more important than ever in South Africa

Vitality Porridge in the fight against malnutrition and diseases, agri-trainings to produce healthy food themselves and create jobs

FEED President Peter Schrum and Vice President Edith Brasche visited FEED projects in the Potchefstroom region in November and met other new partners to expand sustainable development aid in the Potchefstroom region and beyond.For more information, visit FEED.


SUNfarming Eco- and Agri-Solar Parks with Double Added Value for the Energy Turnaround

SUNfarming continues to set the course and focus on biodiversity solar parks.

With the two concepts “Eco-Solar” and “Agri-Solar”, SUNfarming has set the course for project planning for solar parks on former agricultural land in 2021. “With our dual-use concept for open-space plants, we can significantly expand the biodiversity of the land in addition to producing green electricity,” says SUNfarming Group CEO Thies Schrum.

The SUNfarming Eco- and Agri-Solar Systems have clear unique selling points due to bifacial glass-glass modules, an elevated substructure and a specifically developed rainwater distribution system. The dual-use concepts offered have been refined for years in some cases with sheep, bee and poultry farming (eco-solar) as well as vegetable and medicinal herb cultivation (agri-solar). “We have further developed our Food&Energy system from abroad over the years and adapted it to the German market and have thus not only created a space under the modules, but also very concrete concepts whose feasibility we have already proven. This is a huge advantage,” continues Thies Schrum, CEO of the SUNfarming Group.

SUNfarming already has several hundred hectares of eco- and agri-solar plants in approval procedures in Germany and plans to roll out the concept further. “We want to make a decisive contribution to the energy transition with this and see ourselves very well positioned to do so,” concludes Schrum.


SUNfarming Research and Innovation Centre Rathenow 2021

Over the past six months, the Rathenow Food & Energy plant has developed into a research site with around 20 different plant species and 23 animal species.

This year, two further research projects were realised in Rathenow. The Jülich Research Centre analysed the plant growth of various ornamental plant species in different shaded areas. As a second research project, plant physiological parameters were investigated in a scientific set-up. The results are currently being evaluated by the Jülich Research Centre and will be published at a later date.
Two other ongoing research projects of SUNfarming are the fertiliser concentrate production from the liquid fermentation residues of the biogas plant in combination with plant production in the Food & Energy plant and the solar module cooling combined with the reuse of the heat gained for plant cultivation. The results will be published in 2022.

National and international representatives from business and politics show great interest in the forward-looking research projects and have regularly visited the Rathenow Research and Innovation Centre to learn about the projects and further planning during plant tours led by our expert staff. Among others, the Minister of Economics of Brandenburg and the Ambassador of Panama and many agricultural interest groups visited us.

The previous SUNfarming research results of the Agri-Solar plant in Rathenow show that solar energy combined with food production and valuable herbs is an ecologically highly topical issue for the coming years. Our excellent results show that valuable medicinal herbs and regionally produced vegetables can be successfully grown in our SUNfarming Agri-Solar facilities, even on sandy soils.


SUNfarming COVID-19 Response Programme for South Africa

During the two-year project period (2021/22), 28.8 million servings of Vitality Porridge will be distributed to over 10,000 school children and 50,000 family members, 40 school gardens will be created and more than 1,260 unemployed people will receive training on how to become self-employed.

“To date, we have trained 685 potential new gardeners in the SF Community Entrepreneur training programme. We have created new school gardens on a total area of about 4000 m². From our first trainings at BA Saobi Secondary School in Ikageng, spinach is already being harvested and used in the school kitchen,” enthuses Melanie Jooste, Team Leader SUNfarming South Africa.
In addition, during the project period 2021/2022, 28.8 million servings of high-quality, healthy Vitality Porridge developed by SUNfarming will be delivered to more than 40 schools over a period of 18 months through the SF Vitality Porridge food aid programme. It will be distributed to 10,000 school children and 50,000 relatives.
The SUNfarming DeveloPPP project is supported in its organisation by the June & Andrew Mlangeni Foundation, the non-profit association F.E.E.D. (Food-Energy-Education-Development e.V.) Hamburg and the F.E.E.D. NGO South Africa. (The German non-profit association FEED and its sister organisation in South Africa are additionally collecting donations from international donors, companies and foundations in order to further expand the urgently needed and sustainable development aid in South Africa in addition to the DEG project.


Award-winning SUNfarming PV system in Heinersdorf/Germany

A school roof in Heinersdorf was equipped with 150 solar modules from SUNfarming. Bürgerenergie Oder-Spree has now been awarded a prize for the pilot project, in which the school, gymnasium and day-care centre are supplied with renewable energy by a photovoltaic system.

The Ministry of Economics, Labour and Energy and the Berlin-Brandenburg regional group of the Association of Municipal Enterprises (VKU) awarded the Heinersdorf project a special prize at the Energy Efficiency Award 2021 ceremony.
Heiner Kamper, project manager of SUNfarming: “The jury emphasised the high educational value for the children. Furthermore, the jury praised the project as a positive example of citizen participation in the energy transition.
We congratulate Bürgerenergie Oder-Spree on this award and thank them for their trust in SUNfarming.”

The plant size is 47.6 KWp, the produced output is 45,000 KWh and the self-consumption for school and kindergarden is 50%. The communities bear no risk, the roofs are leased from the capital contributions of the cooperative members and supply the community with cheap, renewable energy via the SUNfarming PV system. The citizens’ cooperative is planning to lease further roofs and to have them realised.


SUNfarming Home Solar for Gold Winner

Ronald Rauhe, exceptional athlete in canoe racing and multiple Olympic, World and European champion, has fulfilled his professional dream of winning gold in Tokyo in the canoe quad.
Rauhe also relies on quality in his private life. His electricity is supplied by a powerful Home Solar system from SUNfarming which was successfully installed in 2021.

The yield:

PV generator energy (AC grid) 11,092 kWh
Direct self-consumption 3.325 kWh
Battery charging 2.320 kWh
Grid feed-in 5,446 kWh
Own consumption share 50.8 %
Avoided CO₂ emissions 5,279 kg/year


SUNfarming Food & Energy Research and Innovation Center

Eight buildings on a total of 15,550 sqm form the new SUNfarming Food & Energy Research and Innovation Center in Rathenow in Brandenburg. 5 innovative research projects will be realized here in the coming years:

1. Biofertilizer from fermentation residues:
Development of a solar-powered process to process digestate from biogas plants and produce liquid biofertilizer

2. PV cooling mat:
Solar power generation by cooling PV modules using innovative cooling mats and combined use of heat potential (PV cooling mat)

3. Artemisia annua cultivation:
Sustainable cultivation for ecological and economical cultivation of Artemisia Annua in partially shaded agri-solar systems

4. Aquaponics in PV plants:
Development of an energy sustainable and resource efficient aquaculture cycle system under the partially shaded areas of Agri-Solar plants

5. Agro-robotics:
Development of an autonomous agro-robot for efficient Artemisia cultivation in Agri-Solar facilities

The total complex consisting of a skylight dome hall, 2 shed roof halls, 2 x light weight halls, 2 Food & Energy facilities and a social building has 730 kWp of installed PV capacity with an energy production of 690 MWh per year.


African Warmwood for South Africa

African Warmwood production is in full swing. As part of our SUNfarming Vitality Porridge Project in 2020 and our new Covid19 Responses Program, African Warmwoodis a component of the vitality-promoting food along with turmeric or ginger and supports the body’s defenses.

The pictures show some of the steps in the production process:
Trainees receive hands-on instruction in the selection and proper sorting of harvested mugwort.
Afterwards, the mugwort is gently dried slowly at below 40 degrees in special drying houses powered by solar energy. Slow drying is crucial for the active ingredient content.
After drying, the mugwort is sorted again and then ground into a fine powder.
The finished powder is filled into bags or buckets and delivered to a food factory for further processing.


SUNfarming strengthens structure and management board

SUNfarming Group is taking the next steps and will implement a holding structure in which the individual companies will be bundled in future. In this context, the management team of the holding company “SUNfarming Group AG” around Peter Schrum (CEO) and Martin Tauschke (CFO) will be supported by Thies Schrum as Chief Operating Officer (COO) as of 01 September 2021.

Thies Schrum will be responsible for expanding the digitalization of processes and will be heavily involved in the structuring of the sales teams. As a business economist, Thies Schrum has been working at a leading international strategy consultancy since 2017, most recently as a project manager, supporting national and international clients in the areas of strategy development and due diligence as part of M&A projects.

“Through his consulting work, Thies brings experience from extensive strategy and transformation projects with international medium-sized companies and corporations. This will help us enormously to further structure and advance our chosen growth course. We are very pleased that Thies is now on board,” says Martin Tauschke.

“I am very happy to join our family business and to help shaping the exciting path we have taken. I look forward to working with the team and our partners,” says Thies Schrum, son of Peter Schrum.