Ceremonial opening of the newest SUNfarming Training Centre in Mauritius

A 200 kWp SUNfarming Food & Energy Agrisolar Training Centre was inaugurated, on 26 August 2023, over an area of 4,500 m at Gros Cailloux, in the presence of the Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Mr Georges Pierre Lesjongard, the Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Mr Kavydass Ramano, and other eminent personalities.

SUNfarming Africa’s project has been implemented as part of the National Scheme for Emerging/Innovative Renewable Energy Technologies by the Mauritius Renewable Energy Authority. This project will contribute to the green energy transition as well as improve local food and job security in the region, and eventually the whole country.

In his address, Minister Lesjongard rejoiced that the SUNfarming Food & Energy Agrisolar Training Centre marks a pivotal moment in Mauritius’ journey towards sustainability and a brighter future for the country. He recalled that since several years, Government’s vision has been to transform Mauritius into a high income, inclusive and green country. ‘Our nation has long been a pioneer in recognising the delicate balance between economic progress and ecological preservation and the introduction of the agri-solar farm is a leap forward in this direction’, he said.
He further highlighted that the commitment of Government to both the agricultural and the energy sectors has been translated in its successive budgets. In the last budget speech 2023/2024, Government has reiterated this commitment and provided Rs 2 billion to support existing and new developments in the agricultural sector, he added.

He also remarked that Mauritius is among the very few countries in the world that has proactively introduced such a renewable energy scheme. He shared that the objective is to maximise the use of renewable energy technology, including innovative and emerging technologies, in the journey towards a more sustainable and greener Mauritius.

Minister Lesjongard underlined that the concept of agri PV is an innovative approach that has the potential to transform the socioeconomic and environmental landscape of the country. Government, he added, endeavours to create a synergy where agricultural productivity and renewable energy generation harmoniously coexist. By utilising solar panels alongside agricultural fields, we are optimising our land usage, producing clean energy, and cultivating our soil sustainably, he stated.

For his part, Minister Ramano observed that the solution to climate challenges will be defined by our capability to innovate and rethink the way we use our resources. He thus opined that agri-voltaic is an innovative way to address this issue as it makes simultaneous use of land for solar energy production and agriculture practices. Agri-voltaic could be a solution to both decarbonise the electricity mix and enhance food security, he said.

The SUNfarming project:

This agrivoltaic project combines high quality photovoltaic electricity generation and food production facilities (bio-horticulture and vegetable production by drip irrigation).
SUNfarming has designed special Food & Energy systems, made in Germany, that enable the cultivation of plants underneath solar panels, which will be installed at Gros Cailloux.
This unique plant will be used as a research and training platform in collaboration with local partners in the field of modern agriculture and solar renewable energy.
The plant has been injecting energy into the CEB medium voltage network since July 2023.
The SUNfarming Group is based in Germany and has installed more than 600 MWp of solar projects worldwide over 1,000 hectares. SUNfarming Africa, the subsidiary of the SUNfarming Group in Mauritius, is aiming to develop unique solar projects in the Indian Ocean, notably in Mauritius and Madagascar.

Peter Schrum SUNfarming Founder and Main Shareholder:
“The country has very limited land and needs to invest in such technologies to double the use of the land. This project will contribute to the green energy transition as well as improve local food and job security in the region, and eventually the whole island. The 200 kWp pilot plant showcases the real benefits of Food & Energy as an innovative technology. Our goal is then to invest in large scale Food & Energy projects across the island.”

“As a tropical island where the sun never stops shining, we can and should show our capacity to harness that energy. We firmly believe that combining solar energy generation with sustainable agriculture is an optimum solution for us. Conventional solar projects are quite restricted in their contribution to society, so combining agriculture with solar panels allows for local communities to benefit more from such projects and adds to self-subsistence. We are working to scale up our pilot plant here, in Gros Cailloux and also to other places in Mauritius”, explains Chetan Jankee, SUNfarming Project Manager International Projects.

This project is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action as part of the Renewable Energy Solutions Programme of the German Energy Solutions Initiative.

German Energy Agency (dena)
The German Energy Agency (dena) is a centre of excellence for the applied energy transition and climate protection. dena studies the challenges of building a climate-neutral society and supports the German government in achieving its energy and climate policy objectives. Since its founding in 2000, dena has worked to develop and implement solutions and bring together national and international partners from politics, industry, the scientific community and all parts of society. dena is a project enterprise and a public company owned by the German federal government. dena’s shareholders are the Federal Republic of Germany and the KfW Group. www.dena.de/en

German Energy Solutions Initiative
With the aim of positioning German technologies and know-how worldwide, the German Energy Solutions Initiative of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) supports suppliers of climate-friendly energy solutions in opening up foreign markets. The focus lies on renewable energies, energy efficiency, smart grids and storage, as well as technologies such as power-to-gas and fuel cells. Aimed in particular at small and medium-sized enterprises, the German Energy Solutions Initiative supports participants through measures to prepare market entry as well as to prospect, develop and secure new markets. www.german-energy-solutions.de/en

Renewable Energy Solutions Programme (RES Programme)
With the RES programme, the Energy Export Initiative of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) helps German companies in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors enter new markets. Within the framework of the programme, reference plants are installed and marketed with the support of the German Energy Agency (dena). Information and training activities help ensure a sustainable market entry and demonstrate the quality of climate-friendly technologies made in Germany.


Pilot project: Greenhouse with photovoltaic system

This article was published in Topagrar-online/German on 15.01.2019:

(Editor Hinrich Neumann)
A demonstration plant of the German Energy Agency as well as the two German companies Bioltec Systems GmbH and Sunfarming GmbH will show how food cultivation, energy production and mobility can interact efficiently and sustainably.
The German Energy Agency (Dena) has launched an extraordinary pilot project in its Renewable Energy Solutions program (Dena RES program). In cooperation with the two German companies Bioltec Systems GmbH and Sunfarming GmbH, a training and demonstration center for the German Energy Agency (DMA) has been set up Renewable energy, energy use of waste and sustainable mobility in the Caribbean combined with intelligent control of the overall system.
As a hybrid center, the trend-setting facility combines several technologies: A combined heat and power plant supplies electricity and heat to a school on whose grounds the project was realized. The special feature of this plant is that it is operated with biodiesel. This fuel can be made, for example, from used cooking oil that exists on the island. In addition, this biodiesel will be used to operate specially converted vehicles used in Bahamas waste management.

Electricity for irrigation and vehicles
In addition, a greenhouse with a photovoltaic system was built. On the one hand grow food in it, on the other hand, the greenhouse produces not only the power required for their own drip irrigation, but can also feed into the home network or in the battery system for an emergency power supply. The battery system also serves as a charging station for e-bikes and e-motorcycles. An intelligent controller ensures that such a system can also work in off-grid regions.
The reference plant will produce a total of around 50,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and 80,000 kilowatt hours of heat from renewable energies annually, thus avoiding 40 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. It shows how food cultivation, energy production and mobility can interact efficiently and sustainably, and already serves as a visual aid for teaching environmental management.
Food and energy - the greenhouse and the transport vehicle converted from diesel to biodiesel (Source: Dena)
Original article in topagrar-online/German:


First Hybrid Center for Renewable Energy in the Bahamas

The first SUNfarming/bioltec Hybrid Center for renewable electricity and renewable mobility in the Bahamas was inaugurated on 10th December.

The Bahamas Hybrid Center offers renewable electricity and renewable mobility combined with food production, all coupled to a one-site training program - a very unique concept.
The German companies SUNfarming GmbH and bioltec systems GmbH , in cooperation with the Bahamian company 700 Islands Energy, have set up a hybrid center for renewable energies at the Windsor High School in Albany, Nassau.This project is part of the worldwide dena Renewable Energy Solutions Programme coordinated by the Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) - the German Energy Agency - and supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) within the German Energy Solutions Initiative.

More than 40 political, business and university guests attended the opening ceremony on the campus of Windsor High School.
After the opening speech by Peter Schrum, company founder and main shareholder of SUNfarming, guests had the opportunity to visit the center, accompanied by knowledgeable experts who gladly answered all questions.

In this Hybrid Center, a greenhouse with roof integrated photovoltaic panels, electricity is generated from sunlight, while vegetables, fruits, flowers or medicinal herbs are grown indoors with high yield. The integration of renewable energy into a combined heat and power plant generates electricity and hot water at the same time. A smart grid management system makes the power together with a battery storage as a 24/7 stand-alone solution and / or grid-connected. Electric and fuel vehicles clearly demonstrate renewable mobility.
At the same time, SUNfarming and bioltec are striving to promote climate and resource protection, to shorten regional value chains, to provide energy, to create jobs and ultimately to increase the quality of life sustainably. The competencies of both companies have been integrated into the design. Demonstration, training, application and technology transfer of proven leading-edge technologies are the keywords for this "Bahamian - German Hybrid Center". In addition, it provides the foundation for future collaborative research and development, including business models for commercial applications. The partners bring together different systems integration technologies, whether for off grid or grid-connected applications that are adaptable to local conditions and customer needs.

Learn more about the project