Caring for nature when developing alternative energy projects

  • Nature Governance
  • Italy
  • 2021- 2023

Tackling the integrated natural resource management challenges, such as water, energy, and food (WEF) security, requires innovative thinking.

One of the promising examples of the so-called WEF Nexus solutions is the agri-voltaic projects, also known as solar farming or dual-use systems. These systems involve co-locating solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and agricultural activities on the same land.

Agri-voltaic projects offer a range of essential benefits and represent a promising path as solutions that allow a more integrated and optimized management of resources. However, even with the apparent benefits of such projects, it is essential to consider the costs involved in their development, not only from a financial point of view but also from a social and environmental perspective.

Il progetto

For this reason, as for any infrastructure project, it is essential to conduct cost-benefit analyses that include not only the costs and benefits of projects traditionally included, such as financial costs, but also those that commonly escape our vision, such as the impacts on the ecosystem services.

Including the value of ecosystem services in cost-benefit analyses allows us to move from financial analysis to economic ones, where not only the costs and benefits that affect investors are reflected but also those that impact the rest of society.

Il nostro contributo

In Italy, Etifor has worked with developers of agri-voltaic projects to demonstrate the benefits and costs that these projects can generate, both in monetary and socio-environmental terms.

Some of the services we have evaluated include CO2 emissions reduction, water use efficiency, landscape impact, impact on biodiversity, and pollinators, among others. In this way, we support companies in putting nature at the centre of their decisions.