How much does an agrivoltaic system cost and what are the profits?


Emma Potter

That agrivoltaic “it's a complex systembeing at the same time an energy and agronomic system”, so it presents a greater variability in the plan distribution of the modules, in the height of the modules from the ground, in the module support systems, as well as in the photovoltaic technologies used.

According to the Guidelines on agrivoltaic systems, a first useful requirement in the design of the agrivoltaic system is that of “create the necessary conditions for do not compromise the continuity of agricultural and pastoral activity, guaranteeing, at the same time, a synergistic and efficient energy production”. That is, ensuring the continuity of agricultural activity. In this sense, it should be guaranteed on the plots subject to agrivoltaic intervention “That at least 70% of the surface is intended for agricultural activity”, the experts underline in the publication of the Ecological Transition ministry.

But how much does a photovoltaic system cost and what are the profits?

Agrivoltaic: the costs

It is necessary to consider the construction of an agrivoltaic system various expense items: from the purchase of photovoltaic modules and related components (inverters, fixed or solar tracking structures, etc.) to the design and preparation of the site, installation and safety of the system. Also to be added: operating and maintenance costs over the life of the facility, which could include panel maintenance, equipment upgrades, soil and crop maintenance, and energy monitoring system management.

The MITE Guidelines also offer a concrete reference for costs. It reads that: “The main cost items for which there are important differences are: assembly structures That starting from €65/kW of ground systems arrive at 320-600 €/kW for arable crop systems and 130-220 €/kW for permanent crops; you then have the site preparation and installation, That from 150 €/kW of traditional installations come to €300/kW for arable crop systems”.

Then there are the forms (price varying from 220 to 350 euros per kW depending on the technology, value relating to structures 5 and 3 meters high respectively, for systems on arable and permanent crops). Below are the total costs, as reported in the document: starting from around €750/kW for traditional systems (800 €/kW with uniaxial tracking, single tracker) it reaches around €1,200/kW for arable crop systems (with variability of approximately €375/kW) e €950/kW for permanent crop systems (with variability of approximately €270/kW). On average there is therefore, compared to a traditional system, an increase of 60% for a system of arable crops, and of 25% in the case of a system of permanent crops”.

Then there is the levelized cost of energy (LCOE), which the MITE document makes extensive mention of, giving two examples relating to as many types of agrivoltaic systems for permanent crops (produced by plants that last for various seasons) and arable crops (those that alternate in the cultivation of cereals, legumes, etc. ). In the first case it ranges in a range between 60 and 76 €/MWhin the second the cost is 73-93 €/MWh. Then there is a variability that must be taken into consideration from 15 euros per Megawatt hour for a plant for arable crops ai €25/MWh for permanents.

Compared to a ground-mounted photovoltaic systemthe cost difference is significant (approximately +35%) in the case of arable crops, while it is more moderate (+10%) in the case of permanent ones.

Potential earnings with 1 hectare of photovoltaic

The gain can vary greatly depending on numerous factors, including the efficiency of the solar panels used, the sun exposure of the installation site, the amount of average sunlight during the year in the specific location and electricity costs in the area. Furthermore, incentives and tariffs for renewable energy can have a significant impact.

As a generic example, if you use a high efficiency system that produces approx 1,500 kWh per year for every kWp installed, a 1 MWp plant (equivalent to around 1,000 kWp and which normally covers an area of ​​around one hectare) could produce 1,500,000 kWh per year.

If you assume an energy sales tariff of €0.118 per kWhequal to what is practiced by ARERA for the protected market in mid-2023, the annual income from the sale of energy would be €177,000 per year.

Potential earnings with 1 MW photovoltaic

On average, we can assume that a 1 MW plant can produce approx 1,200,000 kWh per year (assuming an average production of 1,200 kWh per kWp, which is a reasonable value for many regions).

If we are selling that energy for €0.118 per kWhthen the annual income from the sale of energy would be approximately: 1,200,000 kWh ∙ 0.118 €/kWh = €141,600.

Potential earnings with a photovoltaic park

In any case, the design of a photovoltaic park must consider carefully optimal use of land, access to the electricity grid and environmental impact.

There dimension of a photovoltaic park can vary considerably depending on the amount of available land, energy objectives and investment capital. Generally, a photovoltaic park is spread over several tens of hectares.

For example, a 1 MW photovoltaic park it can occupy from 2 to 4 hectares of land, depending on the efficiency of the solar panels and the installation density. However, there are much larger photovoltaic parks. For example, the Bhadla solar park in India, one of the largest in the world, covers an area of ​​more than 10,000 hectares and has a total capacity of 2,245 MW.

Find out more about agrivoltaics watch Ediltecnico's video interview with the architect. Alessandra Scognamigliopresident of the Italian Sustainable Agrivoltaic Association.