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‘We’ll end up eating solar panels’

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Lawmakers on Tuesday called for explicit guidelines governing the installation of agrisolar systems on fertile land, and in a way that does not interfere with crop production. 

The matter was discussed at the House agriculture committee, where MPs complained that a ministry directive regulating the use of agrisolar systems was supposed to have been issued by last November. 

Following contacts with the ministry, they have since been promised that the directive will be issued by the end of January. 

Agrisolar, agrivoltaics or dual-use solar is the simultaneous use of areas of land for both solar panels and agriculture. It can refer to different methods of combining crops with solar panels, from conventional solar panels placed on top of crops, to greenhouses made of semi-transparent PV panels. 

Because solar panels and crops must share the sunlight, the design of agrisolar facilities may require trading off such objectives as optimising crop yield, crop quality, and energy production. 

“If we continue installing agrivoltaics without any checks, without any consequences on those who break the law, then instead of eating what we cultivate we’ll end up eating solar panels,” quipped committee chair Yiannakis Gavriel. 

The committee also asked authorities to suspend all permits for new agrivoltaics until the new directive comes out. 

Greens MP Charalambos Theopemptou said the whole point of agrisolar is to generate additional income for farmers, but without that affecting agricultural production. 

For his part Andreas Gregoriou, permanent secretary at the agriculture ministry, said the ministry’s position is that no agrivoltaic systems should be installed on either fertile land or land subject to re-parcelling. 

This is why in 2022 the ministry prepared a plan for the installation of agrivoltaic systems allowing for the simultaneous cultivation and use of solar energy. 

The official said the government has drawn up criteria for these systems, such as on what elevation they may be installed. 

MPs will revisit the issue at the next session of the committee. Agricultural organisations have been invited to attend for their feedback. 

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