Photovoltaic systems to protect against soil erosion
In the aftermath of the flood disaster in parts of Germany, various measures are being discussed to better protect the population from heavy rainfall events in the future. An important sub-measure is protection against soil erosion, especially in hilly areas with a lot of agriculture. This is because the villages at risk are mainly those that are located in a valley surrounded by agricultural slopes that are not sufficiently stabilized by dense root systems.
It has long been known that so-called "slope separation areas" are a very effective means of combating soil erosion. These areas are excluded from normal agricultural use and serve to retain rainwater. However, farmers who implement such areas had to cope with losses up to now as these areas do not bring them any yield. However, where slope separation areas are equipped with erosion control photovoltaic systems it is a win-win situation.
This system, called "Flower Power", was developed by the company Ewind GmbH in 2020 and filed as an international patent. Individual rows of solar panels separate the slope and retain up to 1 million additional liters of rainwater per hectare thanks to dams reinforced with pile-driven foundations. In addition, the solar modules produce electricity which guarantees the farmers a source of income from the area. Flowering strips between the modules also contribute to biodiversity and insect protection. But crops such as blueberries can also be grown on the heavily shaded areas covered by the solar modules. On test plots, very good yields were still achieved even with ninety percent shading.
The system not only prevents direct erosion damage; by storing and slowly releasing water into the slope below the soil's moisture supply is also significantly improved.
Sources: pv-magazine, article by Volker Korrmann, Ewind Betreiber- und Vertriebs- GmbH from 07/22/2021: https://www.pv-magazine.de/2021/07/22/wirtschaftlicher-erosionsschutz-mit-photovoltaik-anlagen/ (last access on 10/05/2021 at 2 p.m.)
https://www.lfl.bayern.de/mam/cms07/publikationen/daten/schriftenreihe/starkregen-bodenerosion_sturzfluten_lfl-schriftenreihe.pdf (last access on 10/05/2021 at 1.30 p.m.)