Latest Updates in thePhotovoltaic Industry (May 2024)

· PV Industry News,About Solar Panels


  1. Italy Bans PV Installations on Agricultural Land
  2. Ireland Launches €20 Million Energy Research Fund
  3. Netherlands Approves Grid Fees for Rooftop PV System Owners
  4. European Consortium Aims to Streamline Agrivoltaics Design
  5. Study Reveals High-Albedo Ground Reflectors Boost Bifacial Solar Plant Yield by up to 4.5%
  6. Passive Solar Tracker Wind Stowing Boosts Energy Production


Italy Bans PV Installations on Agricultural Land

The Italian government has issued a decree banning the construction of large-scale solar plants on productive agricultural land to prevent desertification.

Minister of Agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida emphasized the importance of photovoltaic systems being compatible with agricultural activities. Concerns about changes in land use and the need to safeguard agricultural functions have resulted in restrictions on solar installations in farming areas.

Despite favorable tax benefits for agricultural businesses and farmlands, the installation of ground-mounted solar panels alters land use, prompting the government to impose such restrictions. However, agrivoltaic facilities are not subject to this ban.

Alternative locations for energy generation are still available, such as quarries, mines, state railway concessions, airport areas, motorway protection zones, and industrial sites.

Lollobrigida guaranteed that ongoing projects will be protected by the government.

He stressed, "Legal certainty is crucial. The regulations will apply to future developments and not retroactively to existing projects where companies have already made legitimate investments."

The new measures have been criticized by the local photovoltaic (PV) sector.

The Italian trade association Italia Solare expressed concerns, stating, "The government's plan to limit solar panel installations on farmland, as mentioned in the Council of Ministers' briefing, appears unnecessary and disregards previous agreements."

Conversely, the Italian agricultural association Coldiretti supported the initiative to curb speculation by major investment funds, which has jeopardized agricultural activities. The association has advocated for identifying suitable sites for ground-mounted PV systems.

Italy Bans PV Installations on Agricultural Land

Ireland Launches €20 Million Energy Research Fund

This year, the Irish Sustainable Energy Authority (SEAI) announced a €20 million government investment in energy research and innovation. This funding is earmarked for research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) projects in energy to assist Ireland in transitioning to more environmentally friendly energy sources. Since 2018, over 240 projects have been completed, primarily focusing on areas such as energy systems integration, efficiency, markets, and smart grids.

Proposals for this year's funding are encouraged, targeting projects that support Ireland's shift to clean energy. The focus is on 20 specific themes developed collaboratively by SEAI, government departments, and agencies. These themes include low-carbon heat and power, improving energy efficiency in existing buildings, energy storage, and sustainable energy communities. Public and private research organizations from various fields are invited to apply for funding by June 13.

Eamon Ryan, the Environment Minister, emphasized the importance of new technologies and solutions to create a sustainable, reliable, and affordable energy system for Ireland's transition to clean energy. Ireland aims to achieve 80% renewable energy in its market by 2030, including 8 GW of solar power. By 2023, Ireland had installed 738 MW of solar capacity. Significant developments include the launch of Ireland's largest battery facility and the implementation of a home energy loan program to encourage the adoption of heat pumps, solar power systems, and solar water heaters.


Netherlands approves grid fees for rooftop PV system owners

The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) reviewed the fees charged by four energy companies—Budget Energie, Vattenfall, Eneco, and Engie—to homeowners with solar panels and deemed these fees to be fair.

These fees are based on higher buying costs, increased imbalance expenses, and net-metering expenses that the energy companies incur when customers have solar panels. The ACM clarified that these fees are not intended for profit but to balance out the lower rates for customers without solar panels.

Additionally, the regulator noted that individuals with solar panels often encounter complex contracts from energy companies, making it challenging to compare and select the best deals. The ACM urged companies and comparison platforms to simplify contract comparisons.

According to, grid fees can range from €100 ($107.81) to €697, depending on the size of the solar panel system. In 2023, the Dutch solar market expanded by 4.82 GW, as reported in the "Nationaal Solar Trendrapport 2023" by Dutch New Energy (DNE) Research. Residential installations contributed about 2.5 GW of this new capacity, up from 2.2 GW the previous year.

Netherlands approves grid fees for rooftop PV system owners

European Consortium Aims to Streamline Agrivoltaics Design

A European team has launched a two-year research project with a €2 million budget to study crop yield, solar panel production, and water use on farms. The goal is to use the findings to develop new models and software.

The study will test solutions in Europe's Nordic region using both overhead solar panels and ground-mounted systems, examining various ways to place solar panels between crop rows. The research will also consider water usage.

The team plans to create software capable of integrating different crop and solar panel setups. This software will feature a mapping function for farming with solar panels and help estimate crop and energy production. It will be compatible with a platform developed by Glint Solar from Norway, which developers use to collaboratively plan and design solar projects. Some of the research results will be publicly shared.

The project team includes Glint Solar from Norway, Kilowattsol from France (a French expert in combining agriculture and solar energy), Danish Renewables from Denmark (a company working on solar projects), and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Fraunhofer ISE) from Germany.

Xavier Daval, CEO of Kilowattsol, emphasized that using land for both solar panels and farming should help solve problems rather than create new ones.

This project is among the latest efforts in Europe to explore how solar panels can be utilized on farmland. For instance, in Germany, Fraunhofer ISE is testing the use of solar panels to provide shade for young trees. In France, they are working on increasing farmers' profits by producing solar power alongside certain crops and using solar technology to enhance olive farming.

Study Reveals High-Albedo Ground Reflectors Boost Bifacial Solar Plant Yield by up to 4.5%

Researchers at the University of Ottawa in Canada investigated how using a special mirror on the ground can boost electricity production in large solar power plants with bifacial panels. They discovered that this mirror can increase the plant's electricity output by up to 4.5%. The lead researcher, Mandy Lewis, emphasized the importance of placing these mirrors directly under the solar panels for optimal results. This research is particularly significant for Canada, where cities like Ottawa and Toronto are covered in snow for many months each year.

The study utilized a 75 kW solar panel system in Colorado that tracks the sun's movement. They tested one row of special bifacial solar panels, collecting data every minute over four months to determine the power output every 15 minutes.

They used a special mirror material from Germany that reflects a significant amount of sunlight and is durable under the sun's rays. Testing five different mirror placements, they found that covering the entire ground or a part directly beneath the panels was most effective, rather than placing them between rows.

Comparing the performance of the solar panels with and without mirrors, they observed that adding these mirrors increased the annual solar power output by 8.6% and enhanced the system's electricity production by up to 4.5%. The best results were achieved by positioning the mirrors directly under the solar panels, regardless of their size.

Upon evaluating the cost of installing these mirrors, they found it could range from $2.50 to $4.60 per square meter. They noted that the financial viability of these mirrors depends on their location and the amount of sunlight, advising against using them in areas where solar energy might be too intense for the system. This research is beneficial for countries like Canada and regions with cloudy weather, as it demonstrated a more significant power increase in cloudier cities like Seattle compared to drier areas like Tucson. Another study at the University of Ottawa introduced a new method to measure the performance of these special solar panels by considering the type of ground they are on.

High-Albedo Ground Reflectors Boost Bifacial Solar Plant Yield

Passive Solar Tracker Wind Stowing Boosts Energy Production

When it becomes very windy, large solar power plants automatically move their components to a safe position to avoid damage and reduce repair time. Strong winds can cause solar panels to shake and twist, potentially leading to small cracks, bending, or even breaking.

However, securing the solar equipment in a safe position can result in decreased electricity production, as they cannot actively follow the sun like some systems do. Array Technologies, a company that manufactures solar tracking systems, collaborated with an engineering firm called DNV to study a different method of moving the equipment during windy conditions, known as passive stowing. They examined how much energy is lost using different methods of moving the trackers in the wind, considering factors such as wind speed before moving, wind direction, duration of being still, the speed required to start moving again, the angle of movement, and the direction of movement.

In Array's passive system, most rows of solar panels continue to follow the sun normally, even when the wind causes them to stop momentarily. By simulating a windy day with DNV, Array found that only some outer rows and 17% of the inner rows ceased tracking as they should. In contrast, the active system moves all the panels away from the sun when the wind is not too strong, without considering the wind direction.

The research demonstrated a significant difference in energy loss between the passive and active systems. The passive method resulted in only a 0.05% annual energy loss, while the traditional active method caused an average annual loss of 2.8%. According to DNV, the typical active system could lead to up to a 4.3% yearly energy loss.

The report noted that costly weather events, especially those caused by wind, have been increasing. Wind-related incidents are now one of the top reasons for major insurance claims over the past thirty years. Array's passive wind movement technology not only helps mitigate these risks by keeping the system operational during windy periods but also makes it easier to predict energy production.

Array Technologies' DuraTrack and OmniTrack products both incorporate passive stow technology.

Passive Solar Tracker Wind Stowing Boosts Energy Production

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Thompson, V. (2024, May 6). European Consortium seeks to streamline agrivoltaics design. Pv Magazine Internationa.

Matalucci, S. (2024, May 7). Italy bans PV from agricultural land. Pv Magazine International.

Bellini, E. (2024, May 8). Research shows high-albedo ground reflectors increase bifacial solar plant yield by up to 4.5%. Pv Magazine International.

Kennedy, R. (2024, May 8). Passive solar tracker wind stowing boosts energy production. Pv Magazine International.

Jowett, P. (2024, May 9). Ireland launches €20 million fund for energy research. Pv Magazine International.

Bellini, E. (2024b, May 10). Netherlands approves grid fees for rooftop PV system owners. Pv Magazine International.

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