Dolce Vita Solare: SENS as solar service provider and farmer
SENS sells 135 MWp solar project in Sicily to Peridot Solar and takes over EPC and O&M services as well as agricultural management of the land
The sun-drenched hills of Sicily, surrounded by silver-green olive trees, lend nature an idyllic atmosphere. Soon, solar modules will blend harmoniously into the landscape here. In SENS' 135 MWp solar project in Sicily, nature and technology are combined in an optimal way. SENS Italia is not only acting as project developer, EPC partner and O&M service provider, but will also take care of the olive and fig trees and look after the beehives that will be set up around the solar park. This creates a perfect symbiosis between agriculture and renewable energy for the region.
Go-ahead for 135 MWp in Sicily
With the signing of the contract between SENS and Peridot Solar (a subsidiary of FitzWalter Capital), the investor in the solar project, the go-ahead has been given for construction, which is scheduled to start this year. During the construction phase, solar modules will be assembled in six sections on a 230-hectare site and are expected to be commissioned at the beginning of 2025. Afterwards, the park will generate more than 220 GWh of renewable energy annually. The Sicilian capital Palermo could be supplied with this energy for about a quarter of a year. This makes the solar park with an output of 135 MWp one of the largest approved and buildable projects on the current market.
Nature and technology combined
SENS has been involved with this project since 2019, as the photovoltaic service provider also took on the role of project developer, together with its long-term partner Sicilia e Progresso (S&P). At this stage, the main focus was on integrating the solar modules into the local landscape. Therefore, the solar park will be realised as a so-called Agri-PV project, which means the simultaneous use of the area for solar panels and agriculture. In addition to the solar modules, olive and fig trees will be planted and beehives will be installed, which will bring many benefits to the region.
Installation concept of the Agri-PV system
These measures both counteract the area shortage and reduce evaporation, thus lowering water consumption when irrigating the plants. This is made possible by the shade of the solar modules. In addition, the 230-hectare area simultaneously supplies the region with renewable energy, olive oil, figs and honey. This can save 110,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Full service: SENS Italia as solar service provider and farmer
"This project includes the full range of our PV services, so we developed the entire 135 MWp in Sicily as a full-service provider and will now build and manage it," explains Sarah Herresthal, Managing Director of SENS Italia. This is because once the construction phase has been completed and the solar park has been commissioned, SENS Italia will also take over the O&M services. "But that's not all, we are expanding our services in this project by also taking care of the agricultural care and harvesting of the plants. So SENS is now also becoming a farmer in Italy," Herresthal adds proudly.
Renewable Energy Infrastructure: 700 MWp planned in Sicily
The 135 MWp solar park, consisting of six sub-projects, represents the first of a total of seven planned agri-photovoltaic ground-mounted plants. The total pipeline will comprise about 700 MWp of PV capacity and, in addition to renewable energy production, will also provide for the yield of 600,000 olive oil bottles, 2.2 million kilograms of figs and 120,000 kilograms of honey per year.
In addition, the pipeline includes the construction of a transformer station in Sicily, which SENS will build and connect to the local high-voltage ring. What is particularly remarkable about this development is that this is the first time that the grid operator has commissioned private companies to build a transformer station. Normally, the grid operator itself is responsible for the construction of such facilities.
"The completion of the substation will significantly strengthen the electricity infrastructure in the region. It illustrates the change in the energy industry and opens up the possibility for private companies to take a more active role in the development of sustainable energy sources," André Kremer, CEO of SENS Group, emphasises enthusiastically. "Sicily has an enormous, as yet unused potential for the development of renewable energy. Our goal is to exploit this potential in the best possible way, always taking into account the surrounding landscape," Kremer underlines the importance of the project.
SENS will not only construct the subsequent sub-project, but also operate as an investor in the long term. This is in line with the future strategic orientation of SENS, as Kremer describes: "In the future, Iqony SENS will significantly expand its own PV portfolio and thus take a much more active role as an energy producer in shaping the energy transition."
The first Sicily project at a glance:
Annual electricity generation
End of 2023 to beginning of 2025