THI students have demonstrated that solar energy is a viable and affordable long-term option with their vertical agro-photovoltaic system project. By using bifacial photovoltaic modules, they succeeded in maximizing energy efficiency and reducing the total cost of the system, demonstrating that photovoltaics is a sustainable and beneficial solution both economically and environmentally.
Nine students from the Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt (THI) built and tested a vertical agro-photovoltaic system in a pilot project, in cooperation with Schletter Solar and energy providers E.ON Deutschland and LEW Lechwerke from Augsburg . Bifacial modules were used for the project.
In a vertical agrovoltaic system, these modules are mounted as a vertical wall extending in a north-south direction.
As a result, one side of the module faces east and produces electricity from early to late morning, while the rear of the module contributes from early afternoon until late at night.
In total, such a system can produce even more electricity than a conventional south-facing ground-mounted PV system of the same power.
Sigrid del Río, photovoltaic project manager LEW Lechwerke
North-south oriented vertical agrovoltaic systems can be a useful complement to the power supply since they produce electricity mainly in the morning and afternoon, while conventional south-oriented solar systems reach their maximum yield at noon. .
Thomas Pellkofer, Director of Solar Projects at E.ON Germany
Value of energy generated versus system costs.
This is also shown by the students’ calculations, as Professor Peter Weitz, student supervisor at THI, reports: “On an annual average, there is nearly 10% additional revenue from the electricity produced with this system during off-peak hours. These additional revenues will even increase in the future due to the planned expansion of conventional photovoltaic systems and the consequent increase in the supply of solar energy during the central hours of the day.“
Since the space between the rows of modules can continue to be used for agricultural purposes, preferably for fodder meadows and pastures, as the students discovered, these vertical agro-PV systems will thus receive EEG compensation. on almost all agricultural land in Germany. of the 2022 EEG Amendment.
The sophisticated student design is slightly more expensive than a standard south-facing system, in part due to high wind loads and more complex wiring.
Cedrik Zapfe, technical director of Schletter.
In your opinion, the higher selling price of electricity largely compensates for the additional costs, which translates into greater economic efficiency. Therefore, Schletter Solar will bring the substructure of a vertical photovoltaic system to the market next year; demand is clearly increasing.
Bridging the generation gap in the morning and afternoon.
Beyond economic efficiency, the project also sought to contribute to the energy transition. Professor Peter Weitz shows the link: “Morning and afternoon solar power generation gap from south-facing PV systems could be bridged by electricity storage“.
It is much more sustainable to generate electricity directly with vertical photovoltaic systems at present; precious and costly storage capacities are thus reserved for night hours. To succeed in the energy transition, it is also necessary to align production and consumption over time. This means staggering the load, like charging electric cars during the day, but also staggering the time of generation.
What is an agrovoltaic system
An agrophotovoltaic system is a combination of photovoltaic solar energy and agriculture. It is a system that integrates photovoltaic panels in a farm, in order to take advantage of solar energy to generate electricity and, at the same time, provide shade and protect crops. Agrophotovoltaic systems have several advantages, such as reducing dependence on fossil fuels and protecting the environment, as well as improving crop yields and quality. They can also be an additional source of income for farmers by generating energy that can be sold to the power grid.