Agrovoltaics without changes in the law. The Ministry of Agriculture does not plan to introduce new solutions

Luc Williams

Agrovoltaicsalso referred to as agri-PV, is a combination of two types of activities in the same area: breeding or agricultural crops and electricity production. It is produced by photovoltaic panels of appropriate construction, e.g. in the form of fences or above crops or pastures. In principle however, the most important purpose of a given land remains agricultural production.

Agrovoltaics “in the service” of blueberry cultivation

According to Barbara Michałowska from Corab, a Polish manufacturer of structures and mounting systems for PV modules, in Poland the area of ​​potential application of agri-PV is primarily blueberry cultivation. “Both sun and rain, not to mention hail, pose a threat to the quality of these fruits. Producers use protective structures anyway and spend a lot of money on anti-hail installationsfor hail insurance,” Michałowska told PAP. “Poland is a leader when it comes to blueberry production, it is grown on poorer soils“- she noted.

Polish blueberry producers are waiting for legal changes

She added that Polish blueberry producers saw it agrivoltaic solutions in the West and declare that they also want this technology, but are waiting for the law to change. “However, for agrovoltaics to function, farmers cannot lose the benefits they have from agricultural land usethat is, first of all rights to agricultural tax and agri-environmental payments. For this purpose, regulations are needed which should clearly state that agrovoltaics does not exclude area subsidies Whether subsidies for organic farming” – emphasized Barbara Michałowska.

She emphasized that technically, building agrivoltaics is not a problem. “We have two types of vertical structures, i.e. so-called fences, but also so-called high structures under which agricultural machines can work. As for Poland, for now there are only two of our fence installations. There are inquiries, but the market is still in its infancy” – she explained.

Regulations regarding agrivoltaics according to the Ministry of Agriculture

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development informed PAP that is not working on changing regulations regarding agrivoltaics. The Ministry reminded that in the light of the currently applicable statutory provisions, in the event of construction of photovoltaic panels with an installed electrical capacity of up to 50 kW – i.e. meeting the definition of micro-installations – will serve exclusively agricultural productioni.e. there will be no sale of energy, the land will remain agricultural land. Therefore, there is no need to change its intended use, and consent to exclude it from agricultural production is not required.

However, investments involving: construction of a photovoltaic power plant with a capacity of over 50 kWlocated on large areas, cannot be classified as an agricultural investment, but of a production nature – the ministry believes. Larger photovoltaic systems are of an industrial nature and may be created on the basis of spatial development plans, or on the basis of a WZ decision, therefore a decision of the starosta is required allowing exclusion from agricultural production.

Investments in large photovoltaic systems and the use of agricultural land

In the Ministry's opinion, in the case of the installation of photovoltaic panels, it is difficult to talk about any other function of the land used than using it entirely for non-agricultural business activities. The Ministry indicates here, among others: difficulties in agricultural use due to elements of panel assembly and noted that it receives complaints from farmers about difficulties caused even by single power grid poles. Meanwhile, an investment in the form of a photovoltaic farm will change the current method of using agricultural land, limiting or even preventing all possible directions of agricultural production in this area.

Therefore, the Ministry is of the opinion that the possibility of conducting limited agricultural activities on the property does not affect the recognition that it has been occupied for business purposes, since the occupied land is necessary for the proper functioning of the photovoltaic farm. Agricultural activity is a side activity here – says the ministry. Additionally, repairs or modernizations mean the destruction of agricultural production carried out on these lands. This is why the ministry does not plan to change the applicable regulations.

Agrivoltaics regulations in other EU countries

However, as Barbara Michałowska reminds us, in other countries The EU already has regulations relating directly to agrivoltaics. E.g. in the German standard it is clearly stated that agricultural production comes first, and PV installations are an additional application. Examples of regulations include the requirement that the minimum height of PV installations is 2.1 m, so that people can work freely under them, or that the yield decline cannot exceed 20%.

“Germany clearly indicates that the advantages include leaving the agricultural tax and subsidies. Appropriate regulations already exist in the Czech republic. On the other hand in France there is a definition according to which we talk about agrovoltaics only when the installation has a positive impact on the crop, e.g. protects against extreme phenomena,” Michałowska emphasized.

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