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Unergy implements first agrivoltaic projects in Colombia

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Energy Global,

Unergy, a Latin American CleanTech and FinTech specialising in the financing of high-performance renewable energy production assets, has announced the implementation of its first agrivoltaic projects in Colombia, among the only ones in Latin America. While the installation of photovoltaic projects on farmland is a controversial issue in Europe, Unergy's mini-farms in Latin America provide a real answer to the agricultural problems caused by strong sunlight.

Unergy's protocol is to install mini-solar farms in countries with large proportions of unexploited land, in areas with the highest levels of solar radia-tion on standard 2 ha. surfaces with a slope of less than 10°, with purchase or lease prices dictated by agricultural potential. In short, countries with high photovoltaic potential of over 1800 kWh/kWp, particularly in Latin America, where governments lack the liquidity to finance the energy transition.

In contrast to mega photovoltaic parks, Unergy's mini-farms are small scale projects that reduce deforestation and enable rapid set-up and start-up in just 10 months. Together, these factors guarantee total cost control and an internal rate of return (IRR) of between 7 – 10% per year.

According to the Geographical Institute Agustín Codazzi, Colombia has around 22 million ha. of land suitable for agriculture, of which only 5.3 million are currently exploited.

With the implementation of agrivoltaic projects, Unergy goes one step further and implements a strategy of shared land use. In addition to generating electricity, photovoltaic panels benefit agricultural activities that require moderate sun exposure, such as highly productive cucurbit cultivation, and raising small livestock. They also reduce the amount of water needed for irrigation, further improving environmental aspects, and reducing the cost of agricultural resources.

As for social impact, Unergy's mini-farms contribute to the development of rural communities in developing countries. In Colombia, the start-up's first photovoltaic projects are accompanied by support for local productive players such as schools, agricultural cooperatives, and small independent producers.

While a recent study by the European Commission reported “if just 1% of France's agricultural land were to be used for agrivoltaic systems, the country could reach ten times its cumulative installed capacity in 2022, which would far outstrip the progress observed in other developed economies of the EU”, the Unergy model continues to attract interest. In Europe, it serves as an inspiration and attracts more and more investors.

Each Unergy mini-farm requires an initial investment of around 1US$ million (€930 000) and, through the sale of energy, generates between US$150 000 – US$180 000 US in net profits per year. As of today, the start-up has raised over US$20 millions from individual investors and has announced due diligence procedures for over US$100 million of private and institutional capital.



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