Renewables

Albania to draft law on land classification for agrisolar plants

Albania to draft law on land classification for agrisolar plants

Photo: Asurnipal / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

Published

July 20, 2023

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Published:

July 20, 2023

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Members of parliament in Albania are working on a bill that would define the classes of agricultural land where solar power plants would be allowed to be set up while continuing food production in parallel.

Photovoltaics have come to the spotlight in the Balkans as well with regard to the tradeoff between energy security and food security. While generally recognized as one of the cleanest sources, there are ethical and economic issues with solar power to be resolved when it comes to ground-mounted panels. Critics point to cases where habitats are jeopardized and oppose occupying arable land.

The relevant committee in the Parliament of Albania has met to discuss the drafting of a law that would regulate the said matters. The agrisolar concept is becoming more and more popular throughout the world as it implies simultaneous agricultural activities and the production of electricity.

But instead of mounting panels overhead, projects often come down to letting cattle graze between arrays placed on the ground, which lowers maintenance costs anyway.

Albania has least arable land per capita in Europe

Among other issues, the lawmakers are negotiating whether to let investors in agrivoltaics (also known as agriphotovoltaics) take up grade 7 agricultural land. In Albania, the scale goes from one, most fertile fields, to ten.

One other version would be to exhaust grades 8 and 9 first and then go further if necessary. Deputy Lefter Gështenja from the opposition Democratic Party of Albania, who suggested such a solution, added that the country has the least arable land per capita in Europe, A2 CNN reported.

Classes 9 and 10 are for photovoltaics only while agricultural activity must be mandatory on land with solar parks that is graded 7 and 8, SCAN TV wrote.

Farmers, environmentalists on offensive against fake green energy investments

Two major solar power projects have just highlighted the land issue disputes in the same sector in nearby Bulgaria. Of note, farmers and environmentalists are facing similar challenges with the wind power industry.

There are also controversies with forests, protected areas and access to water and risks from other kinds of renewable energy installations. One such new technology is for floating photovoltaics, popularly called floatovoltaics. On the other hand, power plants running on coal and fuel oil have a much greater impact on health and nature.

Disputes over ground-mounted panels on agricultural land and the agrisolar concept are heating up while the rooftop potential is barely utilized

While in some countries agricultural land is being covered with ground-mounted panels, the utilization of rooftop potential has just begun. In addition, there are vast suitable locations alongside highways and railways, for instance.

Flexible solar panels can be used on bended surfaces. Solutions are emerging for photovoltaic materials to be used as windows and covers for greenhouses. Another example is the construction of solar canopies above car parks.

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