Antonio Cerillo, Winner the European Solar Prize 2017.



Solar parks compatible with agricultural crops arrive

An investment of 20 million is underway in three Solar facilities in Catalonia

Antonio Cerrillo – Barcelona

Some voices have pointed out that certain agricultural spaces are incompatible with photovoltaic solar plants. Banishing this image is precisely what a business initiative promoted with the aim of defending the simultaneous use of agricultural land and the production of electricity from solar sources pursues. Other proposals also seek to better integrate these facilities in the natural environment.

On this new occasion, a solar development company (Green Concept Management) is promoting the construction of three photovoltaic parks that seek to combine these two activities in a complementary way.
Two of them are located in Juià (Gironès) and a third in Folgueroles (Osona). The total programmed investment is close to 20 million euros and the planned electricity production would be equivalent to the energy consumption of some 12,000 homes.

The projects of these three photovoltaic plants are a clear example of the good reception given by the business world to the new Catalan regulations on renewable energy (November 2019) aimed at paving the way for these clean energies

Currently, promoters can promote these projects without having to avail themselves of official aid or receive subsidies. The lowering of generation costs makes it possible to guarantee profitability simply with the remuneration obtained from the sale to the grid of the energy produced.
In this case, the unique element of this proposal is its willingness to integrate agricultural crops. “I am the son of a winegrower and I believe that clean energy can be a great ally for agriculture. In the strip of land between solar panels, certain crops such as lettuces, artichokes or onions can be kept. We have even planned that they can also be used for activities such as caring for chickens, sheep or panels for bees ”, says Guy de Maillé, responsible for Green Concept.

The projects, which no longer require aid, allow the farmers to be compensated and are open to the population.

Another premise is the idea of ​​preferentially taking advantage of land that has been subject to a certain amount of landscaping for its parks (areas close to power lines, motorways, industrial areas).

For this reason, the first two photovoltaic installations are located near the Juià electrical substation (with a power of 4 and 6.8 MW respectively), while the third location is next to the Folgueroles high-voltage lines (in an area farm in which there would be four photovoltaic complexes that would add up to between 12 and 16 MW).

The developers pay the owners of the rented land a fee of 3,000 euros per hectare per year to dispose of the place. “The goal is to improve farmers’ incomes and even dispense with subsidies,” says De Maillé.
Furthermore, to gain trust, they offer a financial participation of 1,500 euros per MW per year to the closest agricultural cooperative; all in order to help farmers promote organic farming.

And, finally, it is open to possible participation by citizens interested in the project. “The residents will have a return of 8% of the investment they have made,” says Guy de Maillé.

These types of projects want to reward and recognize agricultural activities, complete farmers’ farm incomes and at the same time involve people who live in these towns, says the promoter.

“You cannot make these renewable energy developments without involving the actors in the territory,” he summarizes.

“It is not that the agricultural world promotes photovoltaic solar energy, but it must be the photovoltaic industry that must help resurrect and revive a sector with an essential and forgotten activity, such as agriculture” Maillé Sentence.

The promoters give full guarantees of dismantling (dismantling, recycling of components and restoration of the land) after the exploitation is finished. Once the projects are on track, they will remain in the hands of German capital (7C Solarparken).