The following article is a translation and was published on December 4th, 2020 in the Spreejournal Fürstenwalde, Bettina Winkler)

Steinhöfel relies on the sun

Five farmers from the Odervorland office are providing areas for a photovoltaic park, which is to become one of the largest in Brandenburg.
Farmers in the region have been concerned for years and are fighting to keep their farms going. Due to climate change, the amount of precipitation has almost halved in the last 30 years and the productivity of the soil is declining more and more.
The Sunfarming GmbH from Erkner is now promising farmers from the Steinhöfel community income independent of traditional agriculture. Double-use photovoltaic systems are to be built on low-yield soils. Means: On the one hand, solar energy is generated by the higher-placed modules. On the other hand, the areas below can still be used for agriculture.

Trees shield systems
The aim is to create a climate park that is spread over several areas. The systems should stand outside the field of vision and be shielded by hedges or rows of trees. The operator expects a total output of over 500 megawatts. This would make the future project one of the largest in Brandenburg. The community representatives are aware of the importance of the project and see a great opportunity for rural areas. They unanimously decided to initiate the necessary changes to the development plan and the land use plan in the individual districts. “The project is a huge opportunity for our company. We have long been looking for land use that is independent of the weather and offers financial security, ”says Benjamin Meise, Managing Director of Fürstenwalder Agrarprodukte GmbH. "Many farmers are up to their necks". Benjamin Meise has already selected abandoned or low-yield areas for the climate park.

Set-aside areas or low-yield soils are built on with modules.

The OderSpree district farmers' association also takes the view that photovoltaic systems belong on roofs, commercial and special buildings as well as conversion areas. For free-field systems, primarily non-agricultural areas are to be used. "In the case of agro-photovoltaic systems, on the other hand, the areas used for agriculture are not lost and can continue to be cultivated," says district manager Dr. Karsten Lorenz. In his opinion, the planned system in Steinhöfel should therefore be seen more as a pilot system in which several farmers have come together to test the new type of management using photovoltaics on very low-yield locations in terms of economy and profitability.
For Sunfarming from Erkner, the solar park on the planned scale is a pilot project.

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