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On a test field in Gelfingen in the canton of Lucerne, the sensitive raspberry bushes grow under translucent solar modules. There they are well protected from heat and hail. A forward-looking solution with many winners. “The combination of agriculture and electricity generation on the same area harbours great potential,” says agroecologist Dominik Füglistaller from the BFH-HAFL School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences.

50 gigawatts of solar power by 2050

According to the Swiss Energy Strategy 2050, photovoltaics in Switzerland is set to grow from around five gigawatts today to up to 50 gigawatts in the future. So far, the focus has been on rooftops and facades. However, if Füglistaller has his way, photovoltaic systems should also be installed where fruit and vegetables are grown. Together, BFH-HAFL and the Department of Engineering and Information Technology at Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) want to push the topic more strongly in Switzerland and have founded the new Agrisolar Forum.

See also: Optimising Agri-PV for Finland

The new competence centre pools the country’s expertise in photovoltaics and agro-ecology. In future, the two universities want to provide scientific support for agri-PV farmers and support farmers, planners and plant manufacturers with the implementation. It is important to research which systems bring which benefits for which crops. For example, the Agrisolar Forum is currently supporting two plants being planned in the canton of Bern.

Also interesting: Solitek realises special solar projects in the Swiss Alps

Benefits for production must be clear

Füglistaller explains that only those who can demonstrate the benefits for production are allowed to build a solar system on agricultural land. In addition to weather protection, increased yields and a reduction in pesticides, the agroecologist also sees biodiversity as an advantage – for example, when solar panels provide protection for valuable shade plants, as he is investigating on a field in Wyttenbach. (nhp/mfo)

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