Mendel University tests symbiosis of solar panels and vineyards

Construction of solar panels in the vineyard in south Moravia

It might be a mutually beneficial arrangement: installing solar panels in fields where agricultural production takes place could help both the crops and electricity production. A team from Mendel University is testing out the idea in a vineyard in Moravia.

In a field in South Moravia, farmers are planting around 1500 Donauriesling and Rhine Riesling grapevines. But this is no ordinary vineyard. Above the vines rises a metal structure on which solar panels are installed.

Photo: Michal Šafařík,

Generally, solar panels in Czechia are not installed in fields where crops grow. But this is an experiment in agrovoltaics – a portmanteau of agriculture and photovoltaics (the conversion of light into electricity) – using the same area of land to obtain both solar energy and agricultural products, which could help farmers with energy self-sufficiency.

At the moment, legally speaking, solar panels cannot be installed on agricultural land in Czechia. To get around this legislative hurdle, the team of scientists from Mendel University. in cooperation with experts from the private sector. are planting their vineyard in an unusual place, says Pavel Kotásek from the Moravian oil company.

“This experiment is taking place in a mining area after oil and natural gas extraction, so it was easier from a legal perspective to arrange the research. On designated agricultural land this has not yet been approved.”

The idea is that the solar panels protect the plants from strong sun or heavy precipitation – which there may well be more of in the future with climate change causing unpredictable weather patterns, says Mojmír Baroň, head of Mendel University’s Institute of Viticulture and Horticulture.

"The solar panel system above the vineyard provides shading for the vines so they don’t get overheated and stressed. It also provides protection from hail and other extreme weather conditions.”

Meanwhile, the plants in turn cool the panels in summer, which helps them to function better, says Michal Sasín, who works with modern technologies in the Moravian oil company.

“Under the solar panels, the plants should maintain their own microclimate and, theoretically, in the hot months, they could thus contribute to an increase in the efficiency of the panels.”

Illustrative photo: Mendelova univerzita v Brně

The Brno team is building on research carried out in France and Spain, but this is the first time that so-called “agrovoltaics” has been tried out in Czechia. The results may be different from its Mediterranean cousins in a country with a more temperate climate, says Mojmír Baroň.

“On vines that are compatible with agrovoltaics, the panels have been shown to have a positive effect. But we want to test it here in our climate with our light conditions and in a few years we will know more.”

With true scientific rigour, the team is also planting a second vineyard without solar panels as a control group, so it can then compare the yields between the two. Don’t expect to see the results anytime soon, however – this is an experiment with a long timeframe, says Pavel Kotásek from the Moravian oil company.

"Electricity production will start within a month and the vines will start bearing fruit in three years. So we have to wait three years and meanwhile the researchers from Mendel University will study the effect of the agrovoltaics on their growth."

Authors: Anna Fodor , Michal Šafařík | Source:
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