Providing shade while generating electricity

German farmer trials solar roofs for orchard

At Christian Nachtwey’s organic orchard in Gelsdorf, western Germany, workers are loading their carts with ripe red Elstar apples. But the farm is also reaping a second harvest, as many of the apple trees grow beneath solar panels that have been producing bountiful electricity during this year’s unusually sun-rich summer.

Nachtwey: “The idea is simple. To protect the orchard, without reducing the available growing surface and in particular maintaining production. On top of that there’s the solar electricity being generated on the same land.”

Large-scale solar installations on arable land are becoming increasingly popular in Europe and North America, as farmers seek to make the most of their land and establish a second source of revenue.

Nachtwey is collaborating with researchers to test which apple varieties thrive under the solar canopy, and which types of photovoltaic roofs are best suited for the orchard. To compare the results, some trees are covered with a conventional netting normally used to protect sensitive crops from hail.

Source: wnyt.com


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