Agrivoltaic is an innovative practice that allows farmers to install solar panels on top of arable land. Hence, these areas can be simultaneously used for cultivation and energy generation. This innovative technology not only renders land use significantly more efficient but also provides the opportunity to reduce the electricity costs of agricultural businesses. This practice can be an ancillary source of income that increases the revenue of farmers and improves the quality of life in rural areas.
DGRV Brazil, in partnership with the Organização das Cooperativas Brasileiras (OCB), the apex organization of Brazilian cooperatives, is helping the cooperative CCampo Alimentos to implement an Agrivoltaic pilot project.
CCampo is a family farming cooperative in the Brazilian Amazon region, in the West of the state of Pará. Its almost 200 members and five employees contribute to the production of fruit, vegetables, and their by-products. The cooperative has two processing units: one manufactures frozen fruit pulp and the other cassava flour.
CCampo´s main clients are regional public schools, that offer meals to their students. During the COVID-19-pandemic, these institutions suspended face-to-face classes and, thus, did no longer offer meals to their students. Therefore, CCampo lost its most important source of income. Its revenue declined strongly.
The cooperative was strongly motivated to seek a new target group, such as enterprises, to reinvigorate its business. However, private market actors, such as supermarkets, have greater demand. This difference led to new challenges, such as increasing production capabilities, improving logistics, changing marketing strategies, and adapting management practices.
To offer its members in the countryside a better quality of life and increased income, CCampo had to optimize its structure to meet its new challenges. Hence, the cooperative started to participate in the consultancy program Aceleracoop in 2020.
Aceleracoop is a consultancy and capacitation program focusing on the management, governance, and market access of family farming cooperatives in the Brazilian Amazon region. DGRV and OCB jointly conduct this initiative.
In the consultation process, CCampo´s high energy costs protruded. An energy efficiency diagnosis allowed to identify the reasons for the cooperative´s high energy usage and to determine potential strategies to reduce its consumption. The results of this process indicated five energy efficiency measures. Additionally, this analysis resulted in a recommendation to optimize refrigerators maintenance and the possibility of generating renewable energy for self-consumption.
This process gave birth to the idea of installing a solar power plant and led to a daunting question: Why not make this change as part of an innovative pilot project?
The solution to CCampo’s high energy costs was found in the installation of Agrivoltaic systems: combining cultivation and the generation of solar energy.
In the future, the solar plant will generate approximately 70% of the energy it needs to process and freeze fruit pulp. A portion of these savings is destined to be reinvested in a fund. The best way to apply these resources is currently being studied. Nevertheless, the fund should be utilized to invest in the cooperative business and the maintenance of the power plant. Therefore, the AgriPV powerplant not only increases CCampo’s profitability but also helps this cooperative to advance its further development.
This project is expected to continuously further the evolution of CCampo and its members. Ultimately, this project aims to increase the income of people in rural communities, improve their livelihoods, and secure food production.
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