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.
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.
“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.
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
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.
“None of us can do that much
like we all can do together “.
With this in mind, we wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a hopeful start to the new year. Health, happiness and good luck- combined with our sincere thanks for your trust!
With festive greetings
Your SUNfarming team
Equipped with a starter kit for their own vegetable gardens (watering can, soil, bucket, vegetable plants), our first trainees left our training 4 weeks ago with a certificate proofing they had successfully attended the training in vegetable growing and healthy nutrition.
This week we visited them at home to see whether what they had learned could also be implemented at home – and we are thrilled! All of them have created a small vegetable garden, built a fence, the plants are strong and, thanks to good care, grow into healthy vegetables.
Our project shows that with the help to help themselves, and with our trainings, we have given people in the townships of South Africa hope that everyone can contribute something to improve their own living conditions. Parents can be a role model for their children, children learn that it pays to be proactive and how important a healthy diet is.
Pictures often say more than words:
The trainings are part of the SUNfarming Vitality Porridge Project in South Africa. The SUNfarming CoVID-19 Response project is funded by develoPPP funds from the German Ministry for Economic cooperation and Development through KfW / DEG. The project is supported by June & Andrew Mlangeni Foundation and F.E.E.D. (Food-Energy-Education-Development e.V.), which support SUNfarming in the implementation.
SUNfarming Vitality Porridge Project in South Africa is a PPP project and is funded by KfW/DEG. The project is supported in the organization by develoPPP, June & Andrew Mlangeni Foundation, german cooperation, F.E.E.D. (Food-Energy-Education-Development e.V.).
Multiple award-winning SUNfarming Training Centers
More than 1,000 training courses have been held since 2013 at the SF Solar Training Center and SF Food & Energy Training Center for participants from all over Africa. With the help of KfW/DEG, SUNfarming / Alensys successfully implemented the Solar Training Center at North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa, as part of a PPP Public Private Partnership Program in 2013. In 2015 the solar training center was expanded by 15 agro-solar greenhouses to become the SF Food & Energy Training Center. The training centers, which are constantly being expanded even after the funding period has expired, are in full-time operation and, in addition to solar power for the Campus, also supply fresh vegetables to the North-West University Campus, a grocery store in Potchefstroom (Pick & Pay) and several catering facilities.
Fresh vegetables are important for a healthy diet, but people often lack the opportunities to grow them, the money to buy them or the firewood to prepare them. Together with our technical business partners in South Africa, we have developed a vitality-strengthening grain-based dry food (Vitality Porridge). Vitality Porridge not only increases performance, but also contains medicinal herbs from our own cultivation that are known for their positive effects on health. The Vitality Porridge Project offers immediate help against hunger and malnutrition. The project also provides sustainable help through the certified training courses in vegetable growing and healthy eating. These courses are presented to the local population – specifically to people who are without work. Labor is required for food production including in the Food & Energy centers. Accredited Agri-SETA trainers in organic vegetable cultivation provided by SUNfarming South Africa take on the training of these workers. In this way, we are creating new jobs. Our trainees are much better equipped to find work in the agricultural sector after they have completed our training courses.
The courses offered in vegetable growing and healthy eating are controlled by the South African authority SAQA (South African Qualification Authority). The certificates awarded at the end represent a nationally recognized qualification which facilitates entry into the labor market.
The first training took place on September 14th in the local parish. The parishes support the project comprehensively by scouting participants and by providing parish gardens for the practical training. As a result, the church garden should continue to be cultivated by community members and serve as a source of food for the poorest.
So far, over 20 schools with over 10,000 students and a minimum of 60,000 family members have taken part in the project. Up to 300 people who have become unemployed will be trained in the training program. The project offers the 60 best candidates (possible future entrepreneurs) further training on the agricultural property provided by SUNfarming in Potchefstroom. As a licensed SUNfarming franchiser, the majority of them should help to supply supermarkets with organic vegetables and herbs.
Theoretical and practical training includes everything that is necessary for a successful harvest, from soil preparation to sowing, irrigation and pest control. The gardens laid out by the first group are expanded and maintained by subsequent groups. In the course of the growing season, the following groups can learn pest control and pruning in practice. All trainees receive a file with the training material. On the last day of the course, each trainee receives the nationally recognized training certificate from the SAQA (South African Qualification Authority) for successful participation in a small handover ceremony.
As an immediate aid, Vitality Porridge will be distributed to school children as a daily vitamin and nutrient-rich supplement to school meals during the project period. In addition, the children receive a 5 kg bag to take home for their families. Since there are often not enough plates in schools, the Vitality Porridge can also be diluted and consumed more like a milkshake. The children love it all the more because they say it tastes like a vanilla shake.
The course participants can also take a 5kg bag of Vitality Porridge home with them. The joy is great, so is the need. Many ask whether further donations and training can be expected.The school programs supported by KfW/DEG are intended to tackle malnutrition, one of the biggest development problems in African countries, at the root. Through training courses directly in the production facilities and in cooperation with the parishes, jobs and sustainable future prospects are created for the people in Africa.
“The medicinal herbs for Vitality Porridge are already being grown, dried and bottled by trainees as multiple cultures (intercropping) together with various types of vegetables in our Food & Energy Training Centers. The extruders provided on the Food & Energy systems for the production of Vitality Porridge have been technically enlarged so that they can produce up to 200,000 food servings per day, ”explains Peter Schrum, SUNfarming founder and main shareholder.
“We would like to express our thanks to KfW/DEG without their support we would not have been able to implement the emergency food aid and training programs in the Vitality Porridge Project,” continues Peter Schrum.
The system is grid-connected and will shortly, in consultation with the local electricity provider Jirama, supply the city of Antsirabe with clean, renewable solar energy.
After several months of preparation, SUNfarming signed a PPA with the Togolese state on Thursday, January 16, 2020, for over 50 MWp Food & Energy plants. Installed on 2 x 50 hectares of land, the systems, in addition to supplying energy, are intended to help up to 50,000 people in the region receive training in the area of organic vegetable and egg production in the next 10 years. In addition, technicians are trained for the solar sector and the basics of electromobility are taught. Like in all other African countries, SUNfarming strives to actively involve GIZ and or KfW / DEG.
The SUNfarming Food & Energy facility will be the starting signal for a program to promote rural structural development in Togo. The partner in Togo is the CCIT (Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie du Togo, part of the Ministre du Commerce. It is responsible for the training and operation of the Food & Energy plants, under the guidance of SUNfarming. German storage and processing technologies in the field of vegetables and egg processing are as much part of the overall project as the production planning of e.g. tomato juice and ketchup to attract additional investors in these areas.
The SUNfarming Food & Energy concept can make a significant contribution to the success of the “Development Program in Rural Areas” planned by the Togolese government. In addition to a qualified workforce, this project also provides national and international investors with the energy they need to operate the processing plants that are to be built on site.
(Foto left to right:
Vice President CCIT Remie Moevi, President CCIT Germain Méba, Marc Bidamon, Energy Minister Togo, Peter Schrum, SUNfarming, Tiem Bolidja, Energy Ministry responsible for EE, Prinz Lorenzo Koageh Director SUNfarming Togo, Kossi Amétépé, CCIT 2. Vice President GLE.)
Before the laying of the foundation stone, Rt. Hon.Gen. (Rtd.) Moses Ali visited our Food & Energy Training Center at the North-West University in Potchefstroom in South Africa to see with his own eyes. The Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Energy of Uganda already visited us in November 2019 and reported to the Prime Minister. The delegation consisted of the family members of Hon Gen (Rt) Mosis Ali and Prince Kimbugwe.
After the Food & Energy visit we went to CFAM and introduced our partner in food processing.
The Prime Minister was very pleased about our technology and wants to have Food & Energy for Uganda.
An extract from our project proposal to the government of Uganda
The aim is that both the local partners and SUNfarming define the most suitable program for trainings. However, we would like to suggest the following program, as a start:
Module 1: Basic Knowledge Renewable Energy
Module 2: Design and installation of Photovoltaics systems
Module 3: Economic efficiency models for Photovoltaics systems
Module 4: Battery systems
Module 5: E-mobility
Module 6: Food & Energy – plants, greenhouse and free field systems
Module 7: Food & Energy- irrigation, fertilization, control, monitoring
Module 8: Operation, maintenance, monitoring systems.
SUNfarming will realize the first trainings under the Train-The-Trainer principle. Where the local trainers will be responsible to organize and continue with further trainings under the supervision of SUNfarming.
With Food & Energy, SUNfarming will establish a platform to develop several activities, where research is very important as the PV modules create a special environment under them that may not be suitable for some crops. Therefore, the main purpose of the research activities is to determine the most suitable crop for the local Food & Energy system and, in general, how to optimize agricultural production without compromising electricity production. Students that are carrying out their thesis or research groups can use the Food & Energy systems for experimentation and local professors would lead the research activities.