Solar Panels Next to Hops: A Green Future Awaits Agrovoltaics

Solar panels may soon be more integrated into Czech agriculture. Instead of extensive plains with photovoltaics where grass grows at best, they should be more connected with fields and orchards. In addition to electricity production, these solar panels could protect plants from harsh sunlight.

This is envisaged by an amendment to the law on protecting agricultural soil funds, which the Chamber of Deputies is considering. “Agrovoltaic power plants are ideal to install on perennial crops, such as hop gardens or fruit orchards; they require less intensive agricultural work and are less prone to shading than annual crops,” commented the intention the Minister of Environment, Petr Hladík (KDU-ČSL).

According to him, this allows for easier integration of solar panels into the agricultural environment and minimizes negative impacts on crop yields. The panels should be placed in such a way that they do not obstruct cultivation on the land.

The placement of the panels will need to be approved by the body to protect the agricultural soil fund, which could be a municipality or region, and by the Ministry of Agriculture. It will also be necessary to place the panels so they do not damage the soil and that it is then possible to return the field to its original state.

According to earlier estimates by the ministry, they could end up on as much as 70,000 hectares. According to the solar association, one hectare could provide up to one megawatt of power. So far, projects in the field of agrovoltaics have appeared, for example, in Germany, but the first arrivals are already here with us.