A new frontier for Agrivoltaics: the launch of the SYMBIOSYST project

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March 3, 2023

Create a symbiosis where PV and agriculture can have a mutually beneficial relationship

Press release: Facing the ambitious target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, European societies need all the tools and viable solutions to increase the share of clean energy production, without causing additional environmental impact. A remarkable opportunity is offered by combining in a smart way what we already have today, agricultural activity and solar energy production from photovoltaic (PV) panels.

The concept of agrivoltaics, also called agri-PV or agro-PV, makes dual use of land for agriculture and solar energy generation, and it is one of the research fields that has been emerging in the past years with a large variety of novel agri-PV systems.

Accelerate the development of agri-PV plants

The SYMBIOSYST project is an Innovation Action funded by Horizon Europe programme (Grant Agreement N. 101096352), that started in January 2023 with the aim to combine energy supply issues with the agricultural sector needs and to create a symbiosis where PV and agriculture can have a mutually beneficial relationship.

The project will develop technological solutions and strategies to increase the competitiveness of agri-PV solutions across Europe minimizing the impact on landscape and surrounding environment. Another aim is to foster social acceptance and interest for agri-PV solutions and to encourage further investments.

Considering the lessons from past mistakes which delayed the development of cost-effective solutions in the integrated PV sector and market acceptance, SYMBIOSYST is focused on the adaptation of standardized cost-effective solutions in terms of PV modules, mounting structures and Operation and Maintenance (O&M) practices to the specific needs of various crops in different climates and landscapes.

The project will demonstrate the developed products and services through the set up and activation of a network of agri-PV plant demonstrators and the application, with in-field testing of the innovative solutions studied, in four agricultural scenarios differing in location, climate, size, and kind of crops.  

The interdisciplinary consortium in SYMBIOSYST is composed of partners across the value chain with decades of experience in agriculture, precision farming, technology, social acceptance and participatory method, PV modules and systems, integrated PV applications such as BIPV and agri-PV.

For standardized KPI and improved agri-PV assets performance management

As a digital solutions provider to PV plant operators and asset managers, 3E has access to more than 15 GW of active plant data. By combining the analysis of this data with its technical expertise and the input from partners in the agriculture sector, 3E will seek to identify synergy between PV plant operations and agriculture practices. The result of this study will contribute to the development of standardized performance indicators in the agri-PV domain.

Given that agri-PV plants face some specific types of losses, failures and underperformances, 3E plans to integrate the latter into its SynaptiQ performance management platform. To do so 3E will develop self-learning methodologies that can estimate agri-PV-specific losses by analysing the evolution of PV production and performance data over time. The objective is that owners of agri-PV plants can also utilize the platform to optimise their operations through advanced analytics and actionable recommendations.

In short, 3E aims to accelerate the development of large-scale agri-PV plants, by striking a smart balance between the needs for agriculture and energy production, while respecting the environment.

Our SYMBIOSYST project partners

The consortium is coordinated by Eurac Research (Italy). Other partners are: Interuniversitair Micro-Electronica Centrum - IMEC (Belgium), Technische Universiteit Delft (Netherlands), Agenzia Nazionale per le Nuove Tecnologie, l’Energia e lo Sviluppo Economico Sostenibile - ENEA (Italy), Aleo Solar GmbH (Deutschland), KU Leuven (Belgium), Centro di Sperimentazione Laimburg (Italy), Südtiroler Bauernbund (Italy), ETA Florence - Renewable Energies (Italy), Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (Spain), Physee Products B.V. (Netherlands), Kubo Innovations BV (Netherlands), Convert Italia SPA (Italy), Lucisun (Belgium), 3E (Belgium), Belgisch Laboratorium Van Elektriciteitsindustrie (Belgium), EF Solare Italia SPA (Italy). As an affiliated partner there is: Above Surveying LTD (United Kingdom).

Project funded by the European Union.
Views an opinions expressed are however those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or CINEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
Images courtesy of EF Solare Italia - Greenhouse and Agri-PV Prototype in Scalea (Italy). 

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