Digital edition ABC

Recreation of the agrivoltaic project of Green Concept Management – GCM

A British company launches a new project of photovoltaic panels compatible with agricultural cultivation and animal grazing

In the past, nobody would have believed that the agri-voltaic industry (the sum of agriculture and solar energy) was possible and that it would be important enough to enable the agricultural sector to survive on land increasingly degraded by conventional photovoltaic exploitation at the national level. Green Concept Management has gone one step further and has launched a novel and pioneering project in Spain in the field of agriculture and photovoltaic energy. It involves the construction of three photovoltaic parks on the same land used for cultivation and farming, without the two activities being incompatible.

Designed in the towns of Juià (Gerona) and Folgueroles (Osona region, Barcelona), these parks are to be built with a clear objective: to save agriculture. And not only with the aim of saving agriculture itself, but also to give a boost to green energies and thus be able to adapt the natural environment in terms of global and lasting sustainability.

The project already has the backing of the French authorities and the Generalitat de Catalunya in terms of landscape integration and is based on a sustainable and long-lasting agricultural development plan, always consistent with the area and the social needs of where it is proposed to be carried out. In the words of Guy de Maillé, manager of Green Concept, “it is not the agricultural world that should be used to promote solar energies, but the solar photovoltaic industry that should be used to revive and perpetuate an essential and forgotten sector of activity such as agriculture”.

Photovoltaic footprint zero

With an investment of around 49 million euros and an estimated electricity production equivalent to the energy consumption of 12,000 homes, the company will use land that is degraded in terms of landscape (industrial areas, near power lines, etc.) to locate the first two facilities near the Juià power substation, while the third facility is planned next to the high-voltage power lines in Folgueroles. The agri-agricultural facilities will promote local agricultural activity and the cultivation of organic products, which will be sold on the markets closest to the agri-agricultural field.

This agricultural activity will take place between each range of photovoltaic panels (placed at a greater height and adjustable through a computer system), thus favouring adaptation to the needs of the crops: depending on the weather conditions at the time and maximising the production of photovoltaic energy. Between each panel there will be a separation of 8 metres and 80 centimetres, enough space to be able to grow vegetables in the best conditions. In addition, the design of the installation will allow hens, beehives, goats, sheep and even cows to be kept in the areas below the panels.

During construction, according to Green Concept, about 1.5 jobs will be created for every megawatt and once the three parks come into operation, the direct job creation will be approximately 1 worker for every 40 megawatts. But in addition, the project will have in parallel an indirect creation of industrial employment, as well as the creation of new agricultural activities resulting from inter-plate crops. Of course, everything, -clarify- local workforce. In total, the project will make an economic contribution to both town councils and cooperative cellars in the area, of more than 6 million euros over the next 60 years.

Green Concept will pay the owners of the land rented for the construction of the project a fee of 3,000 euros per hectare per year for the use of the site in order to dispense with subsidies and reduce costs. In addition, they will offer – voluntarily and to gain their trust – to the agricultural cooperative closest to their parks, a financial participation of 1500 euros per megawatt per year, in order to help promote organic farming among farmers.

The possibilities of agrovoltaics are many and call for optimism in a context of global climate emergency in which there is very little time left for climate change to become irreversible and for new generations to suffer its catastrophic consequences. Current energy policies are based on renewable electricity generation, which is why De Maillé assures that with this project of general interest, “everyone wins”: from ordinary citizens, to farmers, to our environment. Finally, De Maillé confirms that “large multinational companies are in negotiations with us” and “now they want to apply this business model”.

Construction of the first wind farm is scheduled to begin at the end of this year and it will be connected to the grid next spring. The other two wind farms are also scheduled to be commissioned and completed by the first quarter of 2022.

Original article: