Agri-PV study: One percent of German farmland sufficient for nine percent of electricity demand

According to a study by the University of Hohenheim (Stuttgart) and the Thünen Institute (Braunschweig) on the potential of agri photovoltaics (APV) in Germany, ten percent of farms with particularly good conditions could cover around nine percent of the country’s electricity demand. Less than one percent of arable land would be sufficient, or more precisely: 0.7 percent, which corresponds to about 85,000 hectares.
Junior Professor Arndt Feuerbacher from the Department of Economic-Ecological Policy Modeling at the University of Hohenheim is convinced: »In terms of figures, this could replace three nuclear power plants.« The amount of electricity that could be produced on the area in question, 51 terawatt hours (TWh) per year, would correspond roughly to three times the electricity production of the Bavarian nuclear power plant Isar 2.
However, the more complex installation of APV systems compared to conventional ground-mounted systems would result in additional economic costs of € 1.2 billion ($ 1.19 billion). These result from the installation of the solar modules on stilts, as well as yield losses and other costs associated with the joint management of the land. In order for the systems to be profitable, the APV electricity would have to be remunerated at 8.3 cents per kilowatt hour, 2.3 cents more than conventional ground-mounted systems. In addition, crop yields under APV systems are expected to decline by about 40 percent.
In the long term, the widespread introduction of APV in Germany could provide between 169 and 189 TWh of electricity annually, according to the study. This would make it »mathematically possible to cover around 30 percent of Germany’s total electricity demand,« estimates Sebastian Neuenfeldt of the Thünen Institute. This would require around 300,000 hectares of arable land – about three percent of the cultivated area – for the simultaneous generation of electricity and agricultural products.

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