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

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