France Issues Rules For Agrivoltaic Use To Clear Ground For Faster Adoption

Highlights :

  • With a focus on productivity of the land, agricultural yield and farmer income, the new rules clear up the ground for a wider use of Agrivoltaics in France.
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Recently, the French government came out with its Decree No. 2024-318, which covers the use of agrivoltaics on French Farmland, forests or even natural land. Coming at a time when module prices in Europe have dropped to a level where even less efficient options like Solar Fencing is being taken up in Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere, the French rules are an interesting balance of green energy requirements and the need to protect agricultural productivity.

Laying down the rules on just where Agrivoltaics might be allowed, the decree mentions that

  1. the area that is no longer usable as a result of the agrivoltaic installation does not exceed 10% of the total area covered by the agrivoltaic installation;
  2. The height of the agrivoltaic installation and the spacing between rows allow normal operation and ensure in particular the circulation, physical safety and shelter of the animals and, if the plots are mechanizable, the passage of agricultural machinery.
  3. For installations of more than 10 MW peak the coverage rate defined in Article R. 314-119 shall not exceed 40%.

The coverage rate of an agrivoltaic installation is defined as the ratio between, on the one hand, the maximum projected surface area of photovoltaic modules on the perimeter under normal conditions of use and, on the other hand, the surface area of the agricultural parcel as defined .

Yield is a key determinant in saying that the yield before agrivoltaics must be maintained, or not fall below 90% of previous yield after installation. With a focus on improving the agronomic qualities of the soil, installations that allows agricultural land that has been unused for more than five years to be re-exploited can also be considered as improving the agronomic potential of soils in the new rules.

On using Photovoltaic near animal husbandry centres, the animal welfare improvement service is to be assessed with regard to the improvement of the thermal comfort of animals, which can be demonstrated by the observation of a decrease in temperatures in spaces accessible to animals sheltered by photovoltaic modules and by the provision of services or structures to improve the living conditions of the animals.

While recommending a creation of control zone equal to at least 5% of planned area for agrivoltaics before expanding it fully, to check for performance the rules provide for some exceptions from this requirement as well.

For installations whose coverage rate is less than 40% and in the event that the operator justifies that he is technically unable to create a control zone, the prefect of the department may authorise the use as per the calculation based on a local reference system based on the agronomic results and the available historical data series. Even if the operator can prove the existence of a similar agrivoltaic installation at the departmental level and including a control zone or the existence of a similar agrivoltaic installation at the regional level, with a control zone and equivalent pedoclimatic conditions, it can go ahead.

Or if the installation uses one of the proven agrivoltaic technologies appearing on a list drawn up by order of the ministers responsible for energy and agriculture according to the method of cultivation or breeding, the photovoltaic technical process used and the geographical location.

Income plays an important role to determine effectiveness. Income from agricultural production is considered sustainable when the average income from the sale of the agricultural holding’s crop and animal production after the installation of the agrivoltaic installation is not lower than the average income from the sale of the agricultural holding’s plant and animal production before the installation of the agrivoltaic installation.



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Tony Cheu

Tony is a BSc who has shifted from a career in finance to journalism recently. Passionate about the energy transition, he is particularly keen on the moves being made in the OECD countries to contribute to the energy transition.