The agricultural sector is facing new challenges. In the wake of climate change, strategies must be developed to avoid negative effects on harvests. Fruit growing in Germany is already affected by the consequences of climate change: strong solar radiation, rising temperatures and increasing extreme weather events such as hail and heavy rainfall. In order to counteract quality and yield losses, hail protection nets and foils are already increasingly used in orcharding.
Within the project "APV-Obstbau", it is to be investigated to what extent agrivoltaics can take over this protective function in apple-fruit growing, which PV construction makes sense with this crop and to what extent the agrivoltaic system has an effect on the crop yield.
The aim of the project is to increase resilience in orcharding and to contribute to resource-efficient land use in order to counteract land use conflicts between open space photovoltaic systems and agriculture.
The agrivoltaic system can replace conventional protective structures in orcharding, such as hail protection nets and foil roofing, and protect the plants and fruit from harmful environmental influences. The PV system design is adapted to the requirements of the agriculture in the vegetation phase so that agricultural activity is not restricted or can even benefit from its protective function. An optimal result of an agrivoltaics orcharding is not primarily aimed at maximizing yields, but at a safe and high-quality apple production with additional solar power production. The agricultural and the energetic part of the system are connected by further synergies. For example, the electrical energy generated can be used in upstream and downstream applications such as the use of electric agricultural machinery or solar powered cold rooms for apple storage.
The basis for the achievement of these goals is the construction of a pilot facility to assess the practical suitability of the developed concept under real operating conditions. Results of the project are expected to show to what extent a fruit cultivation system and conventional PV plant technology can be combined. To this end, the agrivoltaic system in orcharding will be examined with regard to light management, system design, landscape aesthetics, economic efficiency, social compatibility and plant cultivation parameters. Four experimental variants are used: (1) Control variant with state of the art hail protection nets, (2) agrivoltaic plant, (3) agrivoltaic plant with reduced pesticide use and (4) foil roofing. The project part on social acceptance and social compatibility deals with different possible conflicts (land use, distribution, process justice) within different actor constellations. In addition, citizen events will be organized, a guide to agrivoltaic fruit growing will be developed for fruit growers, and the chances of integrating agricultural PV technology into the existing climate protection plan will be examined with local decision-makers.