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The Eco-Solar Biotope promotes a circular approach to both agriculture and renewable power generation

Eco-Solar Biotope – mixing a solar and an agricultural farms to promote biodiversity

Eco-Solar Biotope – mixing a solar and an agricultural farms to promote biodiversity

The new biotope will electrify local industry while giving a home to fruit trees and small mammals, birds, and insects

On 20 September Raiffeisen Ware Austria AG (RWA) unveiled their new project – ‘Eco-Solar Biotope’. Essentially, the project combines a solar farm with an agricultural farm near the town of Pöchlarn in Austria.

The aim of the new project is to counteract the ground sealing that many solar plants cause and promote biodiversity at the same time. The ‘Eco-Solar Biotope’, on its part, will be capable of producing 4.1 megawatts of electricity, supplying much of local industry. This circular approach to energy and nature is a prime example of what Austria’s road to 100% renewable electricity by 2030 might look like.

Enough sun for plants and electricity

The Biotope has a total of 10,000 photovoltaic panels, mounted on tall metal stands in a five-hectare field. The panels cover 90% of the area and RWA have planted a rich mixture of seeds underneath them, including technical cultures and fruit trees.

The installation uses a special type of ‘ram profiles’ allowing rainwater to flow through the actual solar modules, preventing soil sealing. At the same time, the panels allow light to pass through while protecting the plants from hail storms, heavy rain and solar radiation. Furthermore, the whole complex is surrounded by a tall hedge, which creates an ideal habitat for small mammals, insects and birds.

To evaluate the project’s success and to analyse how the different concepts will interact, the University of Natural Sciences Vienna (Boku) will monitor the Biotope’s development over the next few years, as well as its contribution to biodiversity.

The Federal Minister for the Environment, Leonore Gewessler, was quoted in a press release, saying: “Projects like this, which are important for the goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2030. You can see what the right framework conditions, a clever funding system and people who are willing to do something for climate protection can achieve."

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