STARTUP CHALLENGE: AGROVOLTAICS

A solution to sustainably combine photovoltaic plants with agricultural and livestock uses

Iberdrola group — through its International Startup Programme - PERSEO — is seeking low-cost and environmentally-friendly solutions to combine the roll-out of photovoltaic plants and primary sector activities in rural areas in a sustainable way.

In line with its commitment to the fight against climate change, Iberdrola group backs renewable energy as the way to drive the energy transition and the necessary decarbonisation and electrification of the economy. The group plans to invest 150 billion euros by 2030, raising its renewable capacity to 95 GW by the end of the decade.

Solar photovoltaic generation is one of Iberdrola's main pillars of growth, resulting in the installation in 2020 of 874 MW of new solar capacity as a contribution towards achieving nearly 35 GW of renewable installed capacity worldwide. Iberdrola has the largest operating photovoltaic plant in EuropeNúñez de Balboa (Badajoz), with 500 MWp — and is planning an even larger one: Francisco Pizarro, which will be located in the province of Cáceres and will have a capacity of 590 MWp.

DESCRIPTION OF THE CHALLENGE

In some cases, the areas where photovoltaic plants are built coincide with sparsely populated zones where the rural economy is based largely on agriculture and livestock production.

As a result of this, Iberdrola — through its International Startup Programme - PERSEO — launches this challenge to identify competitive and innovative solutions that allow combining solar photovoltaic plants with activities related to agriculture, horticulture, livestock, fish-farming or bee-keeping in such a way that they improve the land use. It is what we know as agrovoltaic energy.

Through this contest, Iberdrola's Renewables division's team of specialists is seeking innovative solutions that allow primary sector activities and solar photovoltaic facilities to complement each other and create synergies on the same land, enabling us to promote the local economy, especially in those regions with demographic challenges posed by progressive depopulation, whilst at the same time continuing to fight climate change and support the energy transition.

The proposals must thus explore the combination of solar photovoltaic generation with one of the following complementary land uses:

Agriculture/Horticulture  

Technological proposals are sought to combine different crops with the production of photovoltaic energy.

Livestock  

Technological proposals are sought to combine different livestock-rearing activities with the production of photovoltaic energy.

Fish farming  

Technological proposals are sought to integrate the production of photovoltaic energy into fish farming.

Bee-keeping or other methods of pollination  

HOW THE PROPOSALS SHOULD BE

The proposals will be analysed by specialists from Iberdrola's Renewables Business Unit. Among others, they could include:

 Solutions that contribute towards improving or optimising the productivity of the land, minimising the potential penalty for electricity production.

 Solutions that lead to better water management, temperature optimisation, heat and refrigeration supply for facilities and processes, etc.

 Solutions offering competitive investment costs compared to conventional photovoltaic solutions.

 Solutions focusing on minimising the operating and maintenance costs of photovoltaic plants as well as the costs for the complementary land use.

 Remotely operated solutions and ones that allow for totally autonomous management.
 

 

The evaluation of these proposals will take into account:

 Investment and operating costs

 The maturity of the proposals and their adaptability to the design of photovoltaic plants

 Simplicity of installation for new and existing facilities

 The diversity of crops that could be planted

 Maximisation of electricity generation

 Minimal loss of cultivable land

 The potential positive impact on agricultural or livestock production

 Sustainability of the farming concept, improvements in biodiversity, and carbon capture

 Minimisation of the environmental impact

 Water management system to allow for savings

 Degree of computerisation of the proposal to optimise its efficiency

THE PRIZE

The prize will consist of us signing a collaboration agreement for the development of a proof-of-concept with PERSEO or any other relevant Iberdrola group company, who will assume the costs and provide the winner with the necessary technical support, giving access to infrastructures and real data to test the solution.

If the assay or proof of concept is satisfactory, Iberdrola may offer the participant the opportunity to scale up the solution by means of commercial agreements.

In addition, PERSEO may consider investing in the participant and/or challenge winner.

If you have any questions, please contact IberdrolaChallenge@iberdrola.es.
 

TIMELINE

05/11/2021
Public launch
of the
challenge
06/25/2021
Deadline for
receiving
proposals
September 2021
Announcement
of the winner