Tapping the potential of agrivoltaics to reach climate goals

Sino-German Expert Workshop on Agrivoltaics Development
Participants of the Sino-German Expert Workshop on Agrivoltaics Development

On 23 August, the Sino-German expert workshop on Agrivoltaics Development successfully took place in Beijing. Co-organized by GIZ under the Sino-German Energy Partnership and China New Energy Chamber of Commerce (CNECC), the event invited Chinese and German policymakers, scholars, and industry representatives to discuss the current development of agrivoltaics (APV) in China and Germany.  The discussion centered around the best practices and challenges related to the policy framework and standards of APV in both countries.

APV is a promising concept for combining agriculture and solar power generation. It has the potential to counter the scarcity of arable land and to contribute to the sustainable development of rural areas. Both China and Germany are promoting the development of APV through policy support. In early 2022, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action announced the “Easter Package”, which aims at significantly stepping up the expansion of renewables, including the construction and subsidization of APV. In China, APV also receives support from relevant national ministries. In October 2021, the State Council issued an action plan for reaching carbon dioxide peaking before 2030, proposing low-carbon agricultural models – such as APV – for advancing carbon emissions reduction and carbon sequestration in rural areas. At the local level, APV has been written multiple times into local rural revitalization strategic plans of provinces and municipalities.

Representatives from the German Embassy in Beijing and National Energy Administration of China (NEA) kicked off the event, stressing the significance of innovative approaches to reach the climate targets. This was followed by two comprehensive introductions on the current development, supporting policies and measures, challenges, and future visions of APV in China and Germany.

Lin Yi from CNECC pointed out that the subsidies in China currently still address either PV power generation or agricultural activities. Incentive measures targeting the integration of both PV and agriculture are not in place yet. Hence, the existing supporting measures are not sufficient to support the sustainable development of the APV industry.

Oliver Hoernle from Fraunhofer ISE introduced that the potential of APV in Germany could reach 1700 GW. Beneficial to exploiting this potential is the recently established industry standard. It defines two classifications dependent on the height and land occupancy rate of the solar arrays. Also, agricultural yields should be at least 66% of the reference yield and the loss of available agricultural land due to the PV installation should not exceed 10-15% – the standard states.

To provide reference from other countries, Tobias Winter from the Indo-German Energy Forum shared in detail the different types of APV projects in India. In terms of legislation and standard improvement, India faces similar challenges as China and Germany and therefore still needs to continue exploring ways to promote the sound development of the APV industry.

In the final expert discussion session, experts from China and Germany shared their views and proposed recommendations on policy support, industry standards, and business models in China and Germany. Advocating for a more diverse stakeholder engagement, the panelists’ most concerned issues included land use, standards development and alignment, industrial integration, and technological innovation.

The workshop took place under the framework of the Sino-German Energy Partnership, commissioned by the German Federal ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), in cooperation with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and National Energy Administration (NEA). At the 10th Sino-German Working Group Meeting on Energy, BMWK and NEA agreed on continuously deepening the cooperation on distributed RE, power market reform, flexibility and sustainable heating, green hydrogen, and energy storage etc. As one of the most promising distributed energy solutions in terms of social and economic benefits, GIZ will continue to facilitate exchanges and cooperate with Chinese partners on how to jointly promote the development of APV, explore the potentials on Sino-German pilot projects, and to contribute to the climate goals of both countries.

For more information on this topic, please contact Mr. Vincent Fremery (vincent.fremery(at)giz.de).