A pilot project to see if hops, used to make beer, could be grown under solar power has resulted in successful crops.
The hop growing, which reached a height upwards of 20 feet (six metres), occurred at Josef Wimmer’s farm in Bavaria as part of a collaboration between Wimmer and local solar technology company Hallertauer Handelshaus.
According to AP News, in recent years, Wimmer has also been generating electricity, with solar panels at his 1.3 hectare (32 acre) farm based in the town of Au in der Hallertau, an hour north of Munich in southern Germany. However, the hop project was initially set up just last fall.
According to reports, hop farming with solar panels means that Wimmer’s hops can also get shade sidestepping climate changes during the hot summers.
Solar panels atop crops has reportedly been gaining traction in recent years as incentives and demand for clean energy are on the rise and people are looking into making the best use of the land and ways to shield their crops from the weather which is affecting yields.
The team in Germany has alleged that this is the first agrivoltaic project that’s solely focused on hops, despite other projects around the world growing grains, fruits and vegetables with solar power.
Bernhard Gruber, who is managing the project’s solar component, revealed: “Water from precipitation lasts longer, leaving more in the soil” and explained that “the hops stay healthier and are less susceptible to diseases”.
Speaking about the project and its potential for the future of beer and hop farming, Gruber added: “At the end of the year we will set up another solar park over hops. We’re getting lots of needs from hop farmers, even from abroad.”
A scientific analysis of the benefits for the plants will be conducted in October 2023.