May 28, 2023


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Vertical solar energy systems in agriculture replace gas and electricity storage

Vertically raised dihedral modules will be a critical factor in the energy transition towards decentralized power generation, where photovoltaics will play a prominent role. As this installation variant, which is mainly used in farmland, ensures that solar energy is fed into the grid more stably and thus can make a significant contribution to the stable power supply in the future. In addition, the space required for this height variant is extremely small.

Electricity production all day long

This is the result of a study conducted by researchers at the Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (HTWK). “Double-sided solar panels can use solar energy from both sides. They are installed in an east-west direction, and most of the electricity is generated in the morning and evening. This would reduce the need to store electricity and at the same time keep the space required to generate electricity low.” , says Sophia Reeker of HTWK Leipzig, summarizing the results. She is the first author of the study “Integrating Vertical Solar Power Plants into the Future German Energy System”.

2030 Energy System Simulation

In order to learn the significance of the vertically installed two-phase units, the researchers used the Energyplan program to simulate how the German power system would take care of the expansion of green electricity capabilities in 2030 planned by the federal government. For this they assume an increase from 64 to 195 GW of wind energy production and from 58 to 400 GW of current solar energy production. This means that the installed capacity is much higher than the capacity actually required on a daily basis – even including the sector coupling. Therefore, the maximum electricity production is not always the decisive argument for aligning the PV system. Because if the solar systems are installed facing south with a tilt angle of 20-35 degrees, a lot of electricity is generated, especially on sunny days and in the middle of the day.

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absorb volatility

If renewable energies are to completely replace fossil fuels in the future and solar systems continue to be built primarily towards the south, additional electricity storage will be required to absorb daily and seasonal fluctuations. These memory requirements can be significantly reduced if the modules are also installed in other directions. The results of the Leipzig researchers show that the need to store electricity is reduced if the majority of the added solar capacity is installed vertically in an east-west direction.

Prevent ten megatons of CO2 without additional storage

One scenario shows that even without additional storage, more than ten megatonnes of CO2 per year could be saved if 70 to 90 percent of the added solar modules were not installed diagonally in the south, but vertically in an east-west direction and electricity was generated in both sides. Bifacial solar modules are somewhat more expensive than conventional solar systems. But as more hours of solar energy are available, other needs for electricity are reduced, for example in gas-fired power plants,” explains Jens Schneider of the School of Grid Energy Systems at HTWK Leipzig and co-author of the study.

Vertical units on arable land have many advantages

He asserts that such systems can easily be built on agricultural land. “This creates additional money-earning opportunities for farmers and increases the region’s potential for renewable energies in Germany to the point that we only have to import a small amount of additional energy,” says Schneider, describing one advantage. The second advantage: Solar systems installed on agricultural land can support the growth of certain crops because they protect plants from wind and heat. “Flower ribbons for more biodiversity are possible directly under the modules,” stress the researchers from Leipzig. (see below)

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