Agrivoltaic setups aren’t new to regular readers of this site as we’ve seen many times that certain crops benefit from the shade solar panels provide; and, the solar panels benefit the farmers by producing clean energy. Now we know that hops, which flavour beer, thrive under solar panels. A German experiment with a special solar setup for hops has proven more successful than expected since the hops fared better against disease.
Which crops thrive under solar panels depends on many factors, and for a crop like hops a default solar field setup is not a good one. Hops like to grow straight up which means that the solar panels need to be elevated high off the ground. The hops then grow up to the solar panels and get lots of benefit from the cooling effects of the panels themselves.
The pilot project — a collaboration between Wimmer and local solar technology company Hallertauer Handelshaus — was set up in the fall of last year. The electricity made at this farm can power around 250 households, and the hops get shade they’ll need more often as climate change turbocharges summer heat.
Solar panels atop crops has been gaining traction in recent years as incentives and demand for clean energy skyrocket. Researchers look into making the best use of agricultural land, and farmers seek ways to shield their crops from blistering heat, keep in moisture and potentially increase yields. The team in Germany says its effort is the first agrivoltaic project that’s solely focused on hops, but projects have sprouted around the world in several countries for a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables.