Sun for Future - Biodiv Solar Parks on Farmland

 First published 3 May 2019 - Version of 19 April 2021 - time to read: 13 minutes 

Short description

This book „Klimawandel und Biodiversität – Folgen für Deutschland“ shows:

To ensure the existence of the life forms known today, preserving and increasing biodiversity is at least as essential as preventing climate catastrophe.

The link between climate change and the degradation of biodiversity has been proven. Climate events upset natural environments and threaten many plant and animal species with extinction.

E.O. Wilson proposes to put "Half Earth" under conservation. For the One Planet Movement, one third is enough. This study by the Federal Environment Agency says:
At least 15-20% ecological priority areas (EFAs) in the agricultural landscape are necessary to achieve the national goals for the protection and promotion of biodiversity in the agricultural landscape. This corresponds to 2.5 to 3.3 million hectares of agricultural land.

My idea:

Up to 3 million hectares of ecological priority areas in the form of biodiversity solar parks - "Biodiv-Solarparks" for short - on former farmland.

The permanent conversion of arable land into extensively used grassland with Biodiv solar parks not only provides very cheap renewable energy, but also has numerous positive effects on the environmental goals of biodiversity promotion, soil protection, water conservation and the increase of carbon stocks in soils.


In November 2019 the PV-Magazine reported very vividly on Prof. Sabine Tischew's visit to a biodiv solar park. Here is the accompanying photo album for a first impression.

Biodiv solar parks seal only a minimal part of the built-up area with their posts and transformer stations and offer a high benefit for biodiversity, as this study of BNE and this DBU project also show. Biodiv solar parks are a benefit for flora and fauna.

With current photovoltaic technology, it takes about 3 million hectares of arable land to generate 3,000 terawatt hours of energy per year. That is 100,000 biodiv solar parks, each with a size of 30 hectares. The biodiv solar parks are arranged according to nature conservation criteria so that they complement a transnational biotope network in a meaningful way. In this way, they make an important and necessary contribution to the reconnection of habitats and thus to the conservation of biological diversity in Germany.

With currently 2.3 million hectares for the cultivation of energy crops and 6 million hectares for the cultivation of animal feed, this area is available without any particular impairment of the food supply.

Germany will probably be able to be 100 % CO2-neutral in 2050 with less than 3,000 terawatt hours. The amount of energy that exceeds the 100 % requirement will then be used to become CO2 negative. Otherwise the climate catastrophe will continue unabated. This idea should therefore apply not only to Germany, but worldwide.

A biotope network of biodiv solar parks kills many birds with one stone:

High benefits for biodiversity
a successful energy turnaround
Combating the climate disaster
Financing the conversion of the agricultural landscape
Farmers become nature conservationists

The idea for a transnational biotope network of biodiv solar parks was inspired by this contribution: Naturtalk FÜNF VOR ZWÖLF! - Biodiversity through biotope networks. Many thanks for this to Prof. Dr. Peter Berthold.



Introduction

The Earth Overshoot Day in Germany would actually have fallen on 3 May. The current UN Biodiversity Report that none of the 20 goals of the Biodiversity Decade has been achieved. The IPCC Special Report on Climate Crisis and Land of August 2019 calls for an urgent turnaround in land use. The Leopoldina presents a 10-point plan on biodiversity. Will man and nature finally come together in the face of the corona and climate crisis?

Now is the time to take the energy transition seriously, because the climate crisis is not a future scenario. The Paris Agreement can be followed by action.

How can solar parks help to make the energy revolution and necessary changes possible? Could this path lead to the goal?

Wildlife Conservation in the Solar Park

Only at first glance are solar parks technical installations that devalue the surrounding landscape and nature. At second glance, solar parks offer enormous potential for nature and species conservation when solar parks are built where intensive farming has been practised up to now.


Areas of arable land with few species are transformed into high-quality, species-rich plant communities for nature conservation purposes. Solar parks offer a special habitat for plants, insects and small mammals, which are rarely found in the intensively used cultural landscape. In this way they make a significant contribution to the conservation of many native species and mysterious wildflowers.


In principle, every solar park offers ecological added value compared to "industrial" agriculture. However, the benefit for flora and fauna is much higher if there is a site-specific biodiversity management concept. 

That means:

  •     Sowing with different species-rich wild plant mixtures (regional seed)
  •     Creation of differently structured habitats
  •     Sub-area specific mowing regime
  •     Regular monitoring
  •     At least 3.5 metres row spacing
  •     80 cm instead of 60 cm ground clearance 
  •     Fence distance to the module field considerably more generous


Such solar park biotopes enhance the existing agricultural landscape and do not require compensation areas. A biodiv solar park could perhaps be considered creditable under the One Planet Movement or receive eco-points? A biodiv solar park could perhaps count as a nature conservation area under the One Planet Movement or receive eco-points?

For a monetary evaluation of the positive effects of a biodiv solar park, take a look at the external costs of conventional agriculture: this causes approx. 5,400 euros of external costs per hectare and year due to decreasing biodiversity, decreasing soil fertility, pollution of surface and ground water, greenhouse gases that are harmful to the climate, air pollution and problems in animal husbandry, as this study by the Boston Consulting Group shows.

Why Solar Parks?

Solar parks in Germany are currently profitable at a price of 4-5 euro cents per kilowatt hour for the electricity generated. This also applies to biodiv solar parks, because they are built without additional expenses for photovoltaic technology. They no longer need any financial support and will generate electricity even more cheaper in the future. Solar parks are therefore economically reasonable and also serve the purposes of nature protection.


After the initial investment has been depreciated, solar power from solar parks is only charged for operating and maintenance costs. Then electricity prices of less than 2 euro cents per kilowatt hour are to be expected. Since the operating time of a solar park should in principle be unlimited, electricity from solar parks is extremely cost-effective in the long term.


Roof and facade systems may be well suited for the own electricity consumption. For the long-term, secure and inexpensive supply of all sectors I do not see this. Because of the higher installation, maintenance and operating costs, solar electricity from roof or facade systems will always be considerably more expensive than electricity from solar parks.

In detail: Scaffolding for installation, scaffolding for refurbishment and maintenance on the roof, less powerful inverters are more expensive. Downtimes during roof refurbishment, service life of the building, damage to the roof must be considered. There are also not enough roofs and facades to generate the quantities of electricity listed below.


Solar parks are also more efficient by a factor of 40 to 80 compared to other bioenergy sources. 

Where are we - where are we going?

To date, aboute 51 GWp of solar power systems have been installed on roofs and free-field sites in Germany.


The current annual power requirement in Germany is 500 terawatt hours. Across sectors, an annual electricity demand of approx. 1,300 to 3,000 terawatt hours will be realistic from 2050 onwards, if the primary energy demand of today is taken as a basis.


Solar power, wind power, water power together with short-, medium- and long-term power storage technologies (Power-to-x) could secure a complete power supply from renewable energies until 2050. This study by the Federal Environment Agency already said so in 2013.


The following diagram (based on a template by Prof. Görge Deerberg, Fraunhofer Umsicht) shows what the 2050 Energy system could look like:

The annual demand for electricity is rising from just under 550 terawatt hours at present to up to 3,000 terawatt hours. The energy demand of the transport sector is falling enormously due to a massive reduction in individual traffic and the extensive conversion to electric mobility (battery, overhead line, e-fuels). Demand in the heating and industrial sectors remains essentially the same. New elements in the energy system of the future are the storage (X) in the middle and the waste heat generated by all P2X and X2P processes. The ultimate discipline of waste heat utilisation complements or even replaces special heat production. Waste heat from industrial processes is also integrated into the energy system as far as possible. 

The Challenge of Demand for Land

Solar parks require space and are supposedly in competition with agriculture, which cultivates food, feed and renewable raw materials there.

Here are some arguments why biodiv solar parks on farmland are only a supposed competition:

  1. At least 15-20% ecological priority areas (EFAs) in the agricultural landscape are necessary to achieve the national goals for the protection and promotion of biodiversity in the agricultural landscape. This is according to this study by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation on the topic: Biodiversity in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the EU after 2020. 15 - 20 % of agricultural land corresponds to 2.5 to 3.3 million hectares.

  2. In order to protect and increase biodiversity, a nationwide biotope network is needed in the agricultural landscape. Networking between populations of organisms is only successful if the distances between the biotopes can be overcome. Therefore, biodiv-solar parks should not be limited to a few marginal production regions, but make sense everywhere - even on very fertile soils.

  3. Biodiv solar parks generate 40-80 times more energy / hectare than the cultivation of energy crops. Currently, about 2.3 million hectares are used for the cultivation of energy crops. Biodiv-solar parks make much more sense ecologically and economically.

The necessary area for biodiv-solar parks is therefore not at all in competition with the cultivation of food and fodder.

Humus accumulation in the Biodiv solar park

Moreover, biodiv-solar parks can also serve as carbon sinks - even if only on a relatively modest scale:

The humus status of arable land is considerably lower than that of meadows. Arable land has humus contents of 1-4 %, while grassland has values in the range of 4-15 %. By changing land use from arable land to extensive permanent grassland in biodiv solar parks, an increase in humus content can be expected. This humus build-up -  an average accumulation of 17 tonnes of carbon per hectare can be expected by the time a new grassland balance is reached - means a reduction in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide of 62 tonnes/hectare.

Even more positive effects result if farmland that was formerly peatland is re-wetted and becomes a biodiv-solar park. Rewetting could reduce emissions by 10-30 t CO2 eq. per ha and year. Provided that rewetting is not impeded, a biodiv solar park increases this amount by its saved GHG emissions, which are 700 t CO2 eq. per ha and year.


The necessary area for biodiv-solar parks can thus be well justified and does not represent competition in the cultivation of food and animal feed. 

Agricultural photovoltaics (APV) compared to biodiv-solar parks (BPV)

Agriphotovoltaics means: combined use of an area of land for agricultural crop production (photosynthesis) and PV electricity production (photovoltaics). APV covers a broad spectrum in the intensity of agricultural use and in the additional expenditure for photovoltaic plant construction. In principle, agricultural use is not changed by photovoltaics and remains in the foreground.

The economic analysis of APV is clear: it is uneconomical to reduce the maximum possible output of a solar park in favour of agricultural use. Depending on the system design, the contribution margins from agriculture only account for between 2-3 % of the contribution margins from electricity revenues. (Source: TFZ Report 73)

For clear distinction of biodiv solar parks (BPV) on former farmland:

  1. The conversion of farmland into a biodiversity area with a solar park offers the greatest ecological benefit. See above arguments and the explanation* below.

  2. Biodiv solar parks on former farmland could qualify as ecological priority areas and thus fit into upcoming Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) eco-schemes as an environmental protection measure.

  3. Biodiv solar parks could be considered land in the sense of the One Planet Movement.

  4. The conversion of arable land into biodiv solar parks could lead to value points on the eco-account that are available for other construction projects and help reduce land pressure. 


Explanation of point 1: If - for whatever reason - the PV modules are removed from the area, it remains a high-quality biotope and cannot simply be converted back into arable land. This explicitly does not apply to an APV installation - agriculture can simply continue to be carried out there. However, it is precisely the purpose of biodiv solar parks that they cannot simply be converted back into intensive arable land. The arable land converted into biodiv solar parks results in sensibly arranged corridors and stepping stones in the agricultural landscape which - completely independent of any electricity production - are intended to serve the interests of nature conservation and provide the urgently needed missing elements for networking existing natural areas.

Of course I know that the world is not black and white, but colourful. So there will certainly also be hybrid forms of APV and BPV. For my proposal "A biodiv solar park for every community", I am very keen to formulate clean and high-quality criteria for the planning, construction and operation of biodiv solar parks, so that this does not end in a greenwashing discussion. Otherwise the necessary tailwind from nature conservation for the conversion of 1.3 to 3 million hectares of arable land into biotopes will probably not happen.

Bioenergy areas

Due to the considerably better efficiency and ecological advantage of solar parks, it is advisable to first use the areas that are currently used to grow silage maize for biogas plants. This could be done step by step with the expiry of the EEG support for the biogas plants concerned.

In 2019, a total of 1.55 million hectares of land were used for biogas. Of this, approx. 971,000 hectares were used for the cultivation of silo maize.

According to the current state of the art, about 970 gigawatt-peak photovoltaic capacity can be built on silo maize acreage alone, generating 970 terawatt-hours of electricity annually. Biogas plants operated with silo maize only generate just under 20 terawatt hours on the same area.

The technology of biogas plants can be further used in combination with solar parks from the surrounding area. This enables the necessary Power-to-X technology: production of e-hydrogen, e-methane, E-CNG, e-methanol, gas storage, feeding gas into the natural gas grid, demand-oriented provision of electricity and heat, use of the installed technology, including local heating grid, transformers and grid connection are possible. The fluctuating electricity supply from sunlight could be buffered with flow batteries (redox flow or organic flow) so that the production of e-carbon and e-hydrogen runs continuously.


What to consider

Below are some aspects and wishes for a successful implementation of the energy revolution with biodiv solar parks.

  • Even spatial distribution of the facilities throughout Germany to create a biodiversity network that can be used by insects, small mammals and birds (Stepping Stone Corridors). Motto "Every community a biodiv solar park"
  • Creation of financial participation opportunities for citizens in the vicinity of solar power plants.
  • Simplification of the authorisation procedure where multiple use is ensured. Multiple use means: Biodiversity concept for species protection or agricultural use or a mixture of both = biodiversity agricultural photovoltaics.
  • Adaptation of EU agricultural subsidies, the Federal Nature Conservation Act and building law to land use by biodiv solar parks. Keywords: contractual nature conservation, greening, ecopoints.
  • last, but not least: Increasing biodiversity, water and soil protection serve agriculture. Roughage production is agriculture. Consequently, biodiv solar parks and all other forms of APV can also be privileged construction projects according to § 35 Paragraph 1 No. 1, 2 BauGB

Conclusion

In Germany, solar parks are an essential building block for the generation of renewable energy. They are considerably more efficient and ecological than the cultivation of plants for biogas production.


I therefore consider it advisable to use precisely this bioenergy agricultural land for the construction of agro-photovoltaics and especially for biodiv solar parks, when not only biodiversity but also very inexpensive electricity is important.


Requirements of species protection and food production are taken into account by biodiversity concepts and future use with farm robotics.


If we install 3000 gigawatt peak photovoltaic power in the next 30 years, then domestic  module production is not only desirable but necessary. Researchers from Baden-Württemberg are showing how this could work with the idea of the self-learning factory.


Outlook for implementation in Germany

Generation

In addition to all existing nature conservation areas and ongoing inter-state biotope network planning, the responsible state and district authorities are drawing up a Germany-wide plan for 100,000 biodiv solar parks per 30 hectares of arable land under the leadership of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation. In southwest Germany these may be somewhat smaller and in northeast Germany somewhat larger. The areas should be well suited for the construction and operation of solar parks. In addition, the areas are selected according to nature conservation criteria so that the necessary and desired stepping stones and connecting elements are created in the agricultural landscape. Thus there should be relatively few acceptance problems and no financial interests of landowners should be decisive in the selection of sites.

Operators of the biodiv solar parks being created there will be local cooperatives set up by farmers, residents, companies, public utilities, municipal utilities, virtual community utilities, nature conservation organisations. The cooperatives will lease the land at a rent which corresponds to the average regional lease price over the last 5 years in order to influence the market for leasehold as little as possible.

Additional idea in the light of the climate catastrophe: Many of the new biodiv solar parks have water management systems: Rainfall is collected at the module table, stored in cisterns or ponds and can be used both within the biodiv solar park and on surrounding agricultural land.

Storage and distribution

The volatile supply of renewable energy will have to be completely decoupled from consumption by a variety of storage technologies (Power to X, P2X), because the volatile supply cannot be directly coupled with consumption. There is only a guaranteed purchase and refit (see below) for the electricity generated if the electricity is completely sold to a Power to X operating company that is to be newly founded.This operator (shareholders are German citizens, federal government, Länder, municipalities, public utilities, nature conservation associations, etc.) is granted a state-guaranteed minimum return - similar to the transmission system operators - in order to be able to refinance itself securely and to cope with the enormous investments in the generation network including energy storage.  To this end, the operator takes over all electricity from renewable plants completely and always and delivers it to transmission system and supply network operators in the form of electricity, e-gas, e-feels, various other forms (X) according to demand.
The stored energy is distributed via electricity and gas lines, heating networks, ships, trains, trucks, etc. 
The supreme discipline of waste heat utilisation to increase the efficiency of all P2X and X2P processes requires a very dense network of transfer points so that the waste heat that is always produced can be used and transported to the consumer with as little loss as possible.

Feed-in tariff

  • 2021: The feed-in tariff for the year of commissioning and the following 20 years is 5 cents per kilowatt hour. 
  • 2022 - 2023 - 2024 ...The feed-in tariff drops by 0.1 cents per kilowatt hour every year 
  • 2050: The feed-in tariff for the year of commissioning and the following 20 years is 2 cents per kilowatt hour.
  • The purchase price is exactly 2 cent per kilowatt-hour for all turbines newly erected after 2050 or from the 20-year support period.


After 20 years, each renewable energy plant will receive the feed-in tariff for new plants for a further 20 years, so that the continued operation can be calculated reliably. The principle is: power plants are operated as long as they are profitable.
 
The tariffs also apply to all other renewable energy plants if they come from the 20-year EEG subsidy.

Outlook for implementation in Europe

Due to the higher solar radiation in the southern countries of the EU, solar electricity can be generated more efficiently there. Exporting solar energy from the south to the north of the EU can be a sensible option, both economically and in terms of trade policy.

Keywords in this context: high-voltage direct current transmission (HVDC), European Supergrid, reduction of Germany's trade balance surplus vis-à-vis the EU's southern countries.

Further Links

My idea for a nationwide biotope network of biodiv solar parks was inspired by this video: Naturtalk FÜNF VOR ZWÖLF! - Artenvielfalt durch Biotopverbünde. An interview with Prof. Dr. Berthold. His recommendation is: Let every community have its own biotope and just do it, instead of waiting for further research results. My recommendation is that every municipality should have at least one biodiv solar park for a successful energy transition close to the citizens.

For a virtual visit of a biodiv solar park with Prof. Dr. Sabine Tischew and the biologist Christina Grätz there is this visit report from the PV-Magazine, issue November 2019 and these photos.

Biodiversität und Management von Agrarlandschaften (2020). Biological diversity in the agricultural landscape is in decline, so the National Academy of Sciences urgently recommends comprehensive action to counteract the loss of species in the agricultural landscape.

Ground-mounted PV systems promote biodiversity according to a new study published in Germany. Scientists collected data from 75 MW of solar plants nationwide and found the areas they were located in showed greater diversity and more intact habitat structures and found panels provide a refuge for animals.


Klimawandel und Biodiversität - Folgen für Deutschland, 2012 WBG-Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. More than 80 authors give a comprehensive overview of the consequences of climate change on biodiversity in Germany, which is seen as an important resource for mankind. The editors follow an interdisciplinary approach that includes all relevant disciplines from climatology, biology, soil science, agriculture and forestry to medicine and sociology.
The authors not only point out problems, but also point out the need for research, information and action, and make recommendations on what future action could look like.
Compulsory reading so as not to lose sight of the overall context. A very worthwhile reading.

In addition to this, there is this publication from the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation from 2015. Fachinformation des BfN zur „Naturschutz-Offensive 2020“des Bundesumweltministeriums. Status, trends and reasons for the priority objectives of the "National Strategy on Biological Diversity" (NBS)

Abundant Earth - Toward an Ecological Civilization, The University of Chicago 2019. Abundant Earth urges us to confront the reality that humanity will not advance by entrenching its domination over the biosphere. On the contrary, we will stagnate in the identity of nature-colonizer and decline into conflict as we vie for natural resources. Instead, we must chart another course, choosing to live in fellowship within the vibrant ecologies of our wild and domestic cohorts, and enfolding human inhabitation within the rich expanse of a biodiverse, living planet.

Sustainably securing the future of agriculture- Impulses and scenarios for ecological, economic and social sustainability – using agriculture in Germany as an example, November 2019, Boston Consulting Group.
This study was developed in close cooperation with Jörg-Andreas Krüger, currently President of the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) and former Managing Director "Ecological Footprint" of WWF Germany. Based on the current challenges of agriculture, the study offers for the first time a holistic overview of the external costs of agriculture. Furthermore, it considers sustainable agriculture as the first approach to reducing these external costs.

 The Biodiversity Imperative for Business – Preserving the Foundations of Our Well-Being September 2020, NABU and Boston Consulting Group.
This study adresses the importance and value of biodiversity as well as the role of economic activities in contributing to biodiversity loss. It gives recommendations to businesses and other stakeholders on how to address the biodiversity crisis.

Biodiversity is essential for survival. Dirk Steffens and Fritz Habekuss show this in their book: Überleben - Zukunftsfrage Artsterben: How we overcome the ecological crisis. Penguin Publishing House, 2020

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet.  The Netflix film to accompany the book.  A wildlife filmmaker reflects on his life, the evolution of life on earth, the disappearance of untouched places in nature, and his vision for the future. (October 2020)
My conclusion: When I recall the image of the orangutan on the lonely remnant tree of the rainforest of Borneo, I feel not only sadness about the fate of this one animal and its species, but also a certain anger. From this comes energy that wants to go somewhere. "Time for outrage" and "Empört euch" are the consistent calls to Me and You and every human being. Stephane Hessel (born 1917) wrote these two essays at the age of 93 and 94. On a side note: Very interesting which vision of agriculture or food production Attenborough hints at in this film. Also my idea of a food production of the future goes to indoor- and vertical-farming. Bioreactors for the production of basic raw materials (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) are then just another step, which he appetizingly does not list, but which I explicitly see coming.

The One Planet Movement -  The One Planet movement was created to maintain maximum political ambition for the fight against climate change and the protection of nature. It was launched in December 2017 at the joint initiative of France, the UN and the World Bank, with a clear purpose. Preserving the planet requires more commitment, more tangible decisions and joint efforts by all public and economic stakeholders. The movement supports international momentum, in conjunction with other major international events.

The benefits of networked biotopes are demonstrated by 3sat nano on 8 January 2020 in its contributions to the Insect Atlas and Biotopes. The presenter is particularly impressive in broadcasting minutes 10:16 to 10:31. He addresses a different way of shaping and promoting agriculture: "Farmers should actually be able to say something like: I produce five hectares of asparagus, nine hectares of lapwing and one hectare of butterflies." My addendum: Why not put up a solar park on the same hectare as the lapwing and the butterfly and achieve the energy transition and finance the whole thing?

KNE-Forum "Naturverträgliche Solarparks" - On 10 September 2020, the KNE-Forum discussed the topic "Solar Parks as Compensatory Areas? An important aspect was the discussion on eco-accounts and the question of whether nature-compatible solar parks can also be considered as compensation areas for other construction projects, which in turn require no or less compensation area.

In order not to be suspected of greenwashing, biodiv solar parks not only require good planning, but the benefits for the environment should also be measurable. How this is possible is shown by the EULE - project of the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU). Project manager Andreas Engl from the Regionalwerke has been combining species protection and energy system transformation for years.

Handlungsleitfaden Solarfreiflächenanlagen: The guide is an important component of the solar offensive of the state of Baden-Württemberg. It is made up of various contributions by authors and provides information on the subject:
- Development, state of development and economic efficiency,
- Planning law,
- civic participation and
- the ecological design of photovoltaic and solar thermal parks.
In addition, the guide presents examples of how biodiversity can be improved in the course of the construction of solar parks.

"Solar thermal systems as biotope" information sheet no. 6 from July 2020, which is primarily concerned with solar thermal open space locations. The information also applies to biodiv solar parks (BPV). Dr. Elke Bruns, head of department at the Competence Centre for Nature Conservation and Energy Transition (KNE), points out the possibility of earning ecopoints in such a solar park. (Information sheet no. 6 only availabe in German)


In this context, Stefan Brunnhuber's books seem to be absolutely right:
In his latest book "Die offene Gesellschaft: Ein Plädoyer für Freiheit und Ordnung im 21. Jahrhundert" (published in February 2019) Stefan Brunnhuber describes how the transition can succeed step by step and with the involvement of the critical public.


In 2016 Stefan Brunnhuber already described a way to meet the global challenges as a society in: "The art of transformation, how we learn to change the world".


The director of the Wuppertal Institute, Prof. Dr. Uwe Schneidewind, on WDR's philosophical radio, is also worth listening to the question: What possibilities are there to deal with the seemingly unsolvable problems of the ecological crisis - and to make the process as meaningful as possible?


How does our society deal with farm animals and what effects does this have on the environment? The Protestant Church tries to give orientation. Among others Uwe Schneidewind speaks in "Diesseits von Eden" of 29.09.2019. WDR 5 ( 04:39 Min.)


Werner Bätzing describes in his current book Das Landleben. He goes far back into the past to sketch scenarios for the future of town and country.
After reading the book, city dwellers think differently about the country. A good book for appreciation and encounter of city and country at the same eye level.

The Deutschlandfunk reports in "Forschung aktuell" from 06.05.2019 in a radio report about the UN report on global biodiversity as well as about the topic of agricultural photovoltaics. Click here to go directly to the podcast.


In this report on the Bonn Climate Crisis Conference - June 2019, Deutschlandfunk in Forschung aktuell, dated 19.06.2019, provides a sobering outlook: Even if all the climate protection agreements of Paris (2015) were implemented, the average temperature of the earth would increase by 3 degrees by the end of the century. One more reason to seriously consider food production without agriculture.


How uncomfortable it will be in the year 2050, no matter what we do now in terms of CO2 reduction, is described here in detail. Understanding rhe climate crisis from a global analysis of city analogues. In this context, greenhouses on many roofs equipped with air conditioning systems fed by solar modules or by cold from deep boreholes could be or become a good idea.

Deutscher Wetterdienst, 2020: Climate Status Report Germany Year 2019, DWD, Climate and Environment Division, Offenbach, 23 pages


What is the situation regarding the achievement of the objectives of the Paris Agreement? The "Production Gap Report", published in November 2019, clearly shows this. It is not good if we continue like this.


Earth’s Future is a transdisciplinary journal examining the state of the planet and its inhabitants, sustainable and resilient societies, the science of the Anthropocene, and predictions of our common future through research articles, reviews and commentaries.


With the "Barometer of the Energy Transition" the Fraunhofer IEE annually evaluates the state of the German energy transition. The indicators selected for this purpose describe the energy system in its various technical dimensions: end energy, wind energy, photovoltaics, balancing power systems, bioenergy, power-to-gas, batteries, heating sector, mobility sector and investment activity.
On the basis of the actual values from December of the previous year, scenario modelling is used to calculate target values for 2050 and to identify target paths that will enable the energy system to be transformed into a 100 percent renewable energy supply.


The Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB) does research on methanol production from CO2. The project is called innovative cascade processes for the conversion of CO2 into fuels and chemicals.


Carbon dioxide neutral fuels from air and electricity. The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the companies Climeworks, Ineratec and Sunfire combine the necessary process steps in a compact plant.

How this works with Climeworks technology on Iceland is shown by 3-sat Nano in 4 minutes. A broadcast from 19.03.2020.


The climate crisis represents an existential, global threat to humanity, yet its delocalized nature complicates climate action. Here, the authors propose retrofitting air conditioning units as integrated, scalable, and renewable-powered devices capable of decentralized CO2 conversion and energy democratization. Crowd Oil - not Crude Oil


The DLF reports on 8 May 2019 on how algae and CO2 become climate-neutral building materials.


E. coli bacteria engineered to eat carbon dioxide. Feat could turn bacteria into biological factories for energy and even food. Nature newsfrom November 27.


Deutschlandfunk reported on CO2 recycling on 4 June 2019. Production of fuels with the help of bacteria. BASF has recognized the potential of Lanzatech, the company mentioned in the article. Bacteria are also working on this topic at Electrochaea GmbH.

"Die 4-Promille-Initiative „Böden für Ernährungssicherung und Klima“ –Wissenschaftliche Bewertung und Diskussion möglicher Beiträge in Deutschland".  Thünen Working Paper 112 In this working paper, the 4 per mille initiative is subjected to a critical evaluation from a scientific point of view. On page 16, at the end of the first paragraph: "The permanent conversion of arable land into grassland is a very effective measure for increasing C stocks in soils. A particularly sensible and long-term measure would be, for example, the conversion of arable land into grassland along watercourses (beyond the very narrow protective strips)". 

For the keywords: humus, climate change, carbon sequestration, land use change, there is information and figures in this study from 2020:  "CO2-Zertifikate für die Festlegung atmosphärischen Kohlenstoffs in Böden: Methoden, Maßnahmen und Grenzen" Quote: "Since grassland soils have significantly higher C-org stocks than arable soils, mainly due to higher root-borne C inputs, a conversion from arable to grassland is a very effective measure to increase C-org stocks. In the long term, the establishment of new grassland can be expected to result in an average C-org build-up of 0.73 t ha-1 a-1 (Conant et al., 2001; Poeplau et al., 2011). Further benefits are offered in terms of water protection, erosion control and the promotion of biodiversity."

An exciting report by Deutschlandfunk from 26.06.2019 on how CO2 could change from a climate killer to a valuable raw material. Methanol can become an essential component of the future energy world.


Critical questions and insights into the current debate about which type of energy system will need which energy networks in the future. Deutschlandfunk Zeitfragen with a revealing and very informative report on 28.01.2020: "Braucht die Energiewende die Stromtrassen wirklich?" 


Local heating - district heating - energy transition - Learning from Danes - The Danish heating market. Making it easy! Short and simple on 32 pages by Tobias F. Langer, Logstor.

Store electrical energy regionally and make it available as electricity and heat. Lumenion does this with high-temperature steel storage tanks.


Facts and figures on agriculture from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture

SWR2 Wissen "Der globale Acker" part 6/10. Less soy, less meat, more variety on the plate and the field - it would be a win-win situation.

Contractual nature conservation, greening, common agricultural policy, first pillar, second pillar, ecological priority areas and so on. You can find more information on websites of the EU and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

Is agriculture in a solar park eligible? This question is discussed in the judgment of the Verwaltungsgericht Regensburg from 2018, which clearly states: Yes, if the agricultural use is not restricted by this. 


SWR2 Wissen "Der globale Acker" Teil 9/10: The experts agree that agriculture as a whole will become more ecological and that environmental pollution will be reduced by precision farming or even brought to an end by "smart farming" and "digital farming".


The conflicts between agriculture and nature conservation are strong. But the ecological problems are becoming more and more obvious. Expectations of the new German arable farming strategy are correspondingly high. A political balancing act is foreseeable. A report by Deutschlandfunk on 8 October 2019.


Digitisation in agriculture, when the tractor becomes the office. Agriculture 4.0 - a report by SWR television.


Current Facts on Photovoltaics in Germany from Fraunhofer ISE, July 31, 2019


Stromgestehungskosten Erneuerbare Energien with an outlook until 2035 from Fraunhofer ISE, March 2018. Due to the high learning rate of 15%, electricity from large solar parks will undisputedly become the cheapest electricity from renewable sources.


Mertens, K.: „Photovoltaik - Lehrbuch zu Grundlagen, Technologie und Praxis“; updated edition, Carl Hanser Verlag, München, 2018. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Konrad Mertens teaches photovoltaics and sensor technology at Münster University of Applied Sciences and is the head of the photovoltaics test laboratory there. His conclusion in Chapter 11.14 Photovoltaics versus biomass: Compared to photovoltaics, biomass requires about 50 times the surface area to produce electrical energy.

Is module production in Germany or Europe competitive? Two articles in the PV Magazine from March 2020 and August 2019 say: YES.


Informative article of the PV - Magazine online about the technology-open tender in November 2019. Also in the fourth round only solar parks are the winners. This time, however, not even one wind farm project has dared to score in the tender. The results of the joint tender rounds for solar plants and onshore wind energy plants on the pages of the Federal Network Agency.


In many countries and market segments, electricity from solar parks is already the cheapest form of renewable power generation. An EU-PVSEC PAPER from August 5, 2019


Prof. Dr. Görge Deerberg of Fraunhofer Umsicht commented on the annual electricity demand of a greenhouse gas-neutral Germany in a lecture at the annual conference of the Network Kraftwerkstechnik NRW on 27.08.2019 as follows: Energy system 2050: heat, mobility and Power2X: electricity demand GHG-neutral Germany: between 1300 and 3000 TWh (see slide 11 of the lecture: SEKTORENKOPPLUNG: CROSS-INDUSTRIELLE NETZWERKE)


This study by the Research Centre for Energy Networks and Energy Storage (FENES) at the East Bavarian Technical University Regensburg (OTH Regensburg) from 2016 offers a look beyond the horizon:
"METASTUDY, Analysis of cross-sector studies on the decarbonisation of the German energy system, On behalf of the Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH".
Author's note: In 2016, the authors of this study may not have been able to foresee that solar power plants in Germany can already be operated profitably today with electricity sales prices of 4-6 cents / kWh and that agriculture with farm robots can be possible in 5-10 years under, between and alongside the installed module.


Why we are morally obliged to help when someone's existence is threatened, read and listen to the two political philosophers Christian Neuhäuser and Arnd Pollmann in a report of Deutschlandfunk Kultur from 05.05.2019. In many situations in life, however, the question of a duty to help is more complicated than in philosophical model cases. What happens when we hear about need and injustice elsewhere? How far does each individual's personal responsibility go? How does it measure itself, and how high does the common good rank in relation to individual claims and rights? Should this moral duty be extended to every kind of existence - including the biosphere? I say: Yes!


All Pictures by Christina Grätz (www.nagolare.de)