Business Opportunities for AgriPV in India

The Indo-German Energy Forum, together with the German Solar Association (BSW-Solar) and National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI) hosted a session on the “Business Opportunities for AgriPV in India” on the 29th of September 2022, during the 15th annual Renewable Energy India Expo in Great Noida. 

The session was moderated by Ms. Luz Alicia Aguilar, Senior Project Manager for International Affairs at the German Solar Association (BSW-Solar). 

Inaugurating the session with a virtual welcome remark, Dr. Nicole Glanemann, Deputy Head of Division at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), Government of Germany highlighted the benefits AgriPV can provide in India. She emphasized that the co-location of solar energy generation and crop cultivation can promote clean and renewable energy without sacrificing scarce land. Moreover, Dr. Glanemann noted that AgriPV can secure agricultural production from emerging climate risks and improve the livelihoods of farmers.

Mr. David Wedepohl, Managing Director International Affairs at the BSW-Solar, in his welcoming remark, reiterated the role of AgriPV in addressing land scarcity and conflicts and further addressed on  the need for technological exchange in the overall AgriPV scenario.
Dr. Martin Lux, Head Energy Team, KfW India, also gave a welcoming remark and outlined some key topics to be addressed, including legal aspects, production to distribution and feeder line construction. In closing, Dr. Lux urged establishing bankable projects that are truly Agri + PV, rather than PV + Agri.

Mr. Pulipaka, CEO of NSEFI, provided an overview of the current developments in AgriPV across India, stating that AgriPV has the potential to be a win, win, win, win, win; for agriculture, solar, academia, government and the community. Mr. Pulipaka also highlighted some key points to be addressed, including the need for a greater contribution from stakeholders, and cost-benefit assessments to increase transparency and certainty on the economic viability of AgriPV.

Mr. Siddharth Goel, Senior Policy Advisor, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), introduced three main business models for AgriPV, setting the focus on aligning the incentives of farmers and solar developers. Mr. Goel concluded by outlining three key policy requirements for promoting AgriPV projects; the development of AgriPV definitions and standards, the introduction of financing mechanisms to increase incentives, and the need for capacity building for farmers and developers alike.

CEO and Co-Founder of the AgriPV-Start Up SunSeed APV, Mr. Vivek Saraf, provided some insight on AgriPV Project design, specifically looking towards improving the economics for both developers and farmers. The scientific approach employed by SunSeed APV looks at the costs of various AgriPV designs in connection with the crop yields and energy revenues each design provides. Their efforts thereby include assessment of mounting and material costs on one hand, and light, microclimate, water and crop growth simulations on the other.

Shifting the focus to the legal requirements and barriers for AgriPV, Ms. Suruchi Kotoky, Senior Associate at BTG Legal outlined some key findings from the recently launched study “Legal Aspects of AgriPV in India”. Ms. Kotoky addressed the role of land classification and conversion for employment and provided some recommendations, including the introduction of a single-window act for AgriPV, and the formulation of specific regulation policies, such as land legislation which specifically provides for mixed-land use of agriculture and PV.

Closing the session, Mr. Sascha Krause-Tünker, CFO of NEXT2Sun, provided some insights on the integration of bifacial vertical solar panels in agriculture. Based on experiences across Europe, vertical AgriPV maximizes the area of land that remains under cultivation and promotes electricity production in morning and evening hours, when demand is generally greatest. Mr. Krause-Tünker emphasized the need to explore and assess the potential of vertical AgriPV in the context of India.

The session brought together an audience from both the public and private sectors, including solar and AgriPV developers, government institutions, NGOs, and research institutions in the field of both energy and agriculture. 

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