Agro-photovoltaics in urban and peri-urban contexts
City of Vienna, Austria, and adjacent municipalities (sub-urban transition zones and inner-city greens)
• NIKKO Photovoltaik GmbH (PV planning and development company)
• Urban Innovation Vienna GmbH (formerly TINA Vienna, Smart City Agency; part of the Vienna Holding consortium)
• LGV-Frischgemüse (vegetable farmers’ cooperative in Vienna)
• Individual local farmers
Urban and peri-urban agricultural areas serve multiple purposes: they contribute to the urban food supply by providing fresh vegetables; they can be visited by local residents for recreation; they provide opportunities for educational activities for city dwellers to learn about food production; they are increasingly used by non-farmers to produce their own food (urban gardening, cooperatives); and they can be used for energy production with agro-photovoltaics.
Agro-photovoltaics (Agro-PV) represents a rather new way of renewable energy production, combining agricultural activities with energy production. Depending on the design and density of the panels, and hence the shading of the ground, Agro-PV can either reduce or increase agricultural productivity. Urban Agro-PV adds to the multi-functionality of urban and peri-urban agriculture at the food-water-energy nexus.
There a significant need for research and innovative solutions before this approach can become a mainstream application to link agricultural activities with renewable energy production. So far, in Central Europe there exist only a few pilot projects on Agro-PV, mostly in rural areas. The proposed Urban Living Lab will contribute with a transdisciplinary research design to increase system, target and transformation knowledge in a set of intertwined land uses in sub-urban transition zones and inner-city greens.
As with many other technologies for renewable energy, there is a general consensus and acceptance at societal level. However, at the local level frequently conflicts arise which call for the development of new forms of governance. A particular governance challenge that will also be addressed in the proposed Urban Living Lab is the multitude of competing claims and tradeoffs between the various functions of urban agricultural areas.
Up to now, hardly any Agro-PV has been implemented around Vienna. In order to provide a realworld experience for the stakeholders as well as to generate data on energy yields and effects on production, a small-scale temporary Agro-PV facility will be constructed as part of the Urban Living Lab experiment.