Global Policy Makers Dialogue on Agri-Renewables: Securing Water-Energy-Food Nexus for a Sustainable World

The National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI), in partnership with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the Global Solar Council and the Indo-German Energy Forum (IGEF-SO), hosted a roundtable discussion on Agri-renewables at the Clean Energy Ministerial Meeting (CEM-14) on 22 July. The event explored the promising field of solar energy in the agricultural sector, highlighting its potential to promote sustainable agriculture and strengthen rural energy access. Discussions highlighted how renewable energy can mitigate the complex interactions between energy, food and water. Distinguished experts shared insights from their work and experiences in the field.

A key focus was on the role of policy and regulatory frameworks in driving investment in renewable energy and fostering collaboration between stakeholders. Mr. Deepak Gupta, Honorary Director General of NSEFI, emphasized the transformative potential of "AgriPV," projecting an installation of 1500 GW by 2050.

Mr. Tobias Winter, Director of the Indo-German Energy Forum (IGEF), highlighted the global surge in solar installations, while pointing out the land-intensive nature of conventional solar installations. He endorsed "Agri PV" as an ingenious solution and suggested that solar companies consider these projects as alternatives to current practices such as shade nets and greenhouses. Mr. Winter praised Germany's partnership with India on Agri PV and its inclusion in the German Renewable Energy Act with a special tariff. He welcomed IRENA's collaboration with FAO to promote Agri Renewables and stressed the importance of starting Agri PV projects at different scales.

Mr. Sascha Krause-Tünker, CFO of NEXT2Sun, highlighted the practicality of using large agricultural machinery on vertical PV systems, streamlining tasks such as spraying, ploughing, and sowing.  Mr. John Grimes, CEO of the Smart Energy Council, introduced the innovative concept of combining Agri PV with an electrolyser to produce Green ammonia for fertilizer, optimizing land utilisation. Mr. Tajima Makoto, Director of ISEP Japan, highlighted Japan's success with AgriPV on tea plants. He highlighted its effectiveness with 4000 systems covering 120 crops.  Mr. Kenji Kato, Senior Programme Officer at IRENA, envisioned AgriPV as a catalyst for energy nexus enhancement and improved livelihoods. Prof. Eicke Weber, former Director of Fraunhofer ISE and Co-Chairman of European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC), stressed the imperative of 30 to 60 TW of solar installations in the next 25 years, emphasizing AgriPV's pivotal role in land's dual usage and water conservation.

The event marked the launch of the AgriPV Alliance, which aims to foster collaboration among stakeholders in the AgriPV ecosystem. This initiative aims to accelerate the adoption of AgriPV in India by advocating for robust policies, deliberating on standards and regulations, and ensuring representation of marginalised groups. The roundtable concluded with the release of an updated edition of the "Agrivoltaics in India" report, which provides insights into operational projects and relevant policies.