Baywa re seeks farmers for agrivoltaic project in France


From pv magazine France

Germany-based Baywa re is developing an agrivoltaic project in the commune of Saubens, in the French southern region of Haute-Garonne, and is currently looking for partner farmers to settle on the 27-hectare site.

Two partners have already been identified–a beekeeper and a sheep farmer, to exploit 20 hectares–and up to four more are needed to cover the remaining seven-hectare surface, which the company wants to split into two areas that will be devoted to market gardening and red fruits.

One vacant area, of ​​four hectares along the departmental road, is located on the edge of the future solar park. Its location, at the entrance of Saubens, offers good visibility for setting up a direct sales system. The soils, currently intended for field cultivation, are loamy-clay-sandy. The pH is slightly acidic (6.2). The market garden plot is located in an “exceptional-flood”-risk zone and would allow one or two market gardens or a single market garden to be set up, depending on the desired projects.

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The second vacant area, of approximately three hectares, is located within the photovoltaic power plant. The PV system and its mounting structures will be specifically adapted to the cultivation of red fruits. The panels, which will be elevated at a certain height from the ground, are transparent and allow part of the light to pass. An irrigation system is already in place on the plot. Depending on the technical knowledge of the cultivation of red fruits of the future partner, Baywa re proposes to take charge of their training. A partnership with a research organization will also be offered to the project leader, in order to carry out precise monitoring of crops under structures.

The land will be made available free of charge for a period of 20 years. Agricultural equipment may be financed, as well as the cost of technical and administrative support and, if necessary, the training of farmers. The profiles sought are market gardeners and young farmers implementing organic farming, permaculture and a biodynamic project and interested in the cultivation of red fruits.

The 20 hectares of solar panels will benefit a sheep farmer, at the rate of seven to eight sheep per hectare, or 150 head. The panels, fixed on steel structures, will be oriented towards the south and inclined at an angle ranging from 15 to 20 degrees, ensuring optimal energy efficiency. The maximum height of the structures will reach 2.6m from the ground and the rows will be spaced at an average of 3m, allowing animals to move freely within the park. BayWa r.e. has already set up this type of partnership on six solar power plants, notably in Fontenet, in Charente Maritime.

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