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.