When constructing solar farms, it is important to take into account the impact on our living environment and on the use of farmland. This is why energy companies and research institutes are developing concepts that make it possible to combine energy production and forms of farming that also contribute to biodiversity.

The Symbizon project

In the Symbizon project, TNO, Vattenfall, Rijksvastgoedbedrijf (RVB), ERF, Hemus and Aeres Hogeschool have joined forces to investigate the combination of a solar park with strip farming in order to obtain new knowledge and insights for efficient land use. This initiative originated within the National Consortium Solar in Landscape.

The aim of the Symbizon project is to show that a smart combination of solar panels and strip farming will keep the land intact for food production, improve the ecological properties and, at the same time, create a positive business case for the farmer and energy generator.

Bifacial solar panels and solar tracking system

Solar tracking system with smart algorithm. Photo: Schletter

The combination of solar panels and agriculture means that fewer solar panels will be installed per hectare than in regular solar farms. A higher yield per solar panel is therefore necessary. That is why this project is studying the use of bifacial solar panels and a solar tracking system.

The consortium is developing and testing a solar tracking algorithm that monitors, for example, crop yield, energy yield, herb strip effect, weather forecast, energy price and soil conditions, and optimises them where possible. The effect of the solar tracking system on crop yield, diseases and ease of use for the farmer will also be measured.

Bifacial solar panels

The solar farm will be located in Almere in 2022, where the combination of solar panels and strip cultivation can be tested. The site is made available by the Rijksvastgoedbedrijf. The consortium received a TKI Urban Energy subsidy for the 4-year Symbizon project.

TNO has knowledge of the various design choices for agri-PV. This can be used in combination with crop growth models to analyse business cases.

Image credits: ERF

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