A photovoltaic partner for agriculture

Solarpark STEAG Solar Energy Solutions

STEAG SENS to build 244 MWp solar parks in Apulia

STEAG Solar Energy Solutions (SENS) is building another PV-cluster in Italy. The solar experts are to start the construction of three solar parks in Apulia with a total capacity of 244 MW on behalf of a renowned investor at the end of 2021. SENS is responsible for project development and will act as EPC and O&M service provider.

Surrounded by mountains, rivers and the Adriatic Sea, the province of Foggia is located in Apulia, one of Italy’s flattest regions. Among the defining features of Foggia are its extensive cultivated areas. Here they grow almonds, figs and tomatoes in addition to the province’s main crop, olives. Thanks to the Italian government, the cultivated areas will soon see the addition of photovoltaic systems. The sun will contribute not only to the growth of the fruit in the region but also to sustainable energy.

Installations in Italy continue to increase

“Italy is one of the core markets in Europe for us as a PV service provider. With this project we take another step closer to our target of 1 GW installed capacity,” says Managing Director André Kremer. These three sub-projects in Apulia total 244 MWp and all lie within 20 km of one another in Foggia. They each differ in area and total capacity but are all agricultural PV projects fully integrated into intensive olive-growing countryside. The excavators are due to roll onto site at the end of 2021. In addition to development and construction, SENS will also be responsible for the cost-effective operation of the park under the terms of an O&M contract.

Committed local team

Italian subsidiary SENS Italia, based in Milan and Lecce, Apulia, is handling the project. “After showing great commitment during the development phase, our team is looking forward to the installation and on-going management of this project,” says Sarah Herresthal, Managing Director of SENS Italia. “This project has involved us working across disciplines and international borders.” SENS (formerly GILDEMEISTER energy solutions) has been active on the Italian market since 2009 and handles round about 400 MW O&M portfolio in the country.

Dual use of cultivated areas

The present Apulia project has two positive effects at once. Interspersing solar parks among olive trees creates great advantages for the region. The dual use of the ground helps to counteract shortage of land. But that’s not all: some of the solar modules overshadow trees to create a further benefit. Evaporation and hence water consumption can be reduced. The twelve hours of solar radiation every day during the summer months are used efficiently to generate electricity instead of intensifying drought in the region.

Promotion of PV in Italy

The Italian government would like to provide more support for this type of photovoltaics project in the future. A technical commission is to be set up to accelerate the implementation of Italy’s integrated national plan for energy and climate, the Plan nacional integrado de energía y clima 2021-2030, (P.N.I.E.C.). One practical effect of the commission’s work will be to drastically reduce the time it takes to obtain approval for an agricultural PV system, thus enabling projects to start earlier. P.N.I.E.C. 2021-2030 is based on an annual photovoltaics growth of 4 GWp. The overall target for the next ten years of 40 GWp should therefore be reached by 2030. “All of us at SENS are proud to be supporting this objective in Italy,” says Sarah Herresthal, Managing Director of SENS Italia.

Picture: RheinEnergie

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