A photovoltaic partner for agriculture
Würzburg/Essen/Foggia. STEAG Solar Energy Solutions, a subsidiary of the Essen-based energy company STEAG, is realising another photovoltaic cluster in Italy. Three solar parks with a total of 244 megawatts (MWp) will be built by the Würzburg-based solar experts in the Italian region of Apulia on behalf of a renowned investor from the end of 2021. SENS is responsible for the project development as EPC and O&M service provider.
Surrounded by mountains, rivers and the Adriatic Sea, the province of Foggia is located in Apulia, one of Italy’s flattest regions. Among the defining features of Foggia are its extensive cultivated areas. Here they grow almonds, figs and tomatoes in addition to the province’s main crop, olives. Thanks to the Italian government, the cultivated areas will soon see the addition of photovoltaic systems. The sun will contribute not only to the growth of the fruit in the region but also to sustainable energy-generation.
Installations in Italy continue to increase
“For us as a PV-service provider Italy is one of the core markets in Europe for us. With this project we take another step closer to our target of 1 GW installed capacity,” says Managing Director André Kremer. These three sub-projects in Apulia total 244 MWp and all lie within 20 km of one another in Foggia. They each differ in area and total capacity but are all agricultural PV projects fully integrated into intensive olive-growing countryside. The excavators are due to roll onto site at the end of 2021. In addition to development and construction, SENS will also be responsible for the cost-effective operation of the park under the terms of an O&M contract.
Committed local team
Italian subsidiary SENS Italia, based in Milan and Lecce, Apulia, is handling the project. “After showing great commitment during the development phase, our team is looking forward to the installation and on-going management of this project,” says Sarah Herresthal, Managing Director of SENS Italia. “This project has involved us working across disciplines and international borders.” SENS (formerly GILDEMEISTER energy solutions) has been active on the Italian market since 2009 and handles round about 400 MW O&M portfolio in the country.
Dual use of cultivated areas
The current Puglia project has a double positive effect. By erecting the solar parks in the middle of olive groves, the dual use of the land counteracts the shortage of land in the region. But not only that: due to the partial overshadowing of the trees by the solar modules, there is another benefit. Evaporation and thus water consumption can be reduced. This makes efficient use of the twelve hours of sunshine in the summer months instead of exacerbating the drought in the region.
More political backing for PV projects in Italy
The Italian government would like to provide more support for this type of photovoltaics project in the future. A technical commission is to be set up to accelerate the implementation of Italy’s integrated national plan for energy and climate, the Plan nacional integrado de energía y clima 2021-2030, (P.N.I.E.C.).
For practice, the implementation of the commission means that the time period until receiving a decision on approval for an agricultural PV plant will be drastically shortened. Accordingly, projects can start more quickly in the future. Accordingly, the Italian Plan for Energy and Climate anticipates an annual increase in photovoltaics of 4 GWp. Thus, 40 GWp of PV capacity is expected to be created in the next ten years until 2030. "We at SENS are proud to be able to actively support Italy in this goal," says Sarah Herresthal.