Husqvarna, the pioneer in autonomous lawn care solutions and robotic lawn mowing, has joined forces with solar energy provider Alight and SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) in a pilot project that aims to develop sustainable solutions for vegetation maintenance in solar parks by replacing machines run on fossil fuels with battery-driven innovations. The project, which is the first of its kind, has received over 4 million SEK in funding from Vinnova (Sweden’s Innovation Agency). Husqvarna Forest & Garden is a division within Husqvarna Group.
Over the past 25 years, Husqvarna has been an innovation leader in developing robotic lawnmowers and other electrified solutions for green space management. As part of the pilot project with Alight and SLU, Husqvarna will develop new electric and autonomous solutions for lawn care to help improve the sustainability of vegetation management in solar parks. The maintenance of vegetation in solar parks is key for efficient energy production, as vegetation shading, the panels can lead to production falls.
Husqvarna boosts production of solar energy and promotes biodiversity
The project aims to help replace the diesel-powered and manually operated mowers used in many solar parks today with autonomous and electric solutions. The project further aims to explore how this new technology for lawn care can help boost the production of solar energy and promote biodiversity. An important part of this is creating and validating appropriate maintenance plans for what zones to mow, when, and how often, to set best practices for vegetation management.
“We are excited to participate in this pilot, as it is very much in line with our ambitions for the coming years to help our customers make more sustainable choices by offering a broader range of electrified, smart, and autonomous products. We are excited to test some of our latest innovations in the field next year, together with such knowledgeable partners as Alight and SLU”, says Glen Instone, President Husqvarna Division.
The pilot kicked off in August 2021 and will run until December 2022 at one of Alight´s solar parks in the South of Sweden. The project’s different phases consist of knowledge building, implementation, execution, and evaluation. The performance of Husqvarna’s autonomous solution for mowing the solar park will happen in spring 2022. Researchers at SLU will collect data on-site during the whole trial period to gather insights linked to biodiversity.
“For a sustainable and fossil-free future, we need not only a rapid transition to and addition of new renewable energy, but also that the industry applies tech innovations to replace work machines run on fossil fuels with electrified machines. I am very proud to set bold ambitions for green innovation by testing new solutions in partnerships with industry leaders like Husqvarna and having researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences evaluate and qualify the results. The solar energy industry is growing rapidly, and we hope the results can be applied across the industry to optimize the management of solar parks from both an economic and environmental point of view”, says Harald Överholm, chief executive officer of Alight.
“Within this project, we are developing new knowledge in an exciting, rapidly growing field and leading industry partners. We will likely see a continued expansion of solar parks in Sweden, and it is, therefore, important to find ways to manage vegetation at a reasonable cost at the same time as achieving high energy production and sustained ecosystem service provision such as biodiversity”, says Tobias Emilsson, a researcher at SLU.