Pilot project for electrified vegetation maintenance in solar parks receives government funding

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Husqvarna, the pioneer in autonomous lawncare 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 the development of robotic lawn mowers 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 lawncare, 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.

The aim of the project is to help replace the diesel powered and manually operated mowers that are used in many solar parks today, with solutions that are autonomous and electric. The project further aims to explore how this new technology for lawn care can help boost the production of solar energy as well as promote biodiversity. An important part of this is the creation and validation of appropriate maintenance plans for what zones to mow, when and how often, to set best practice for vegetation management.

“We are excited to participate in this pilot, as it is very much in line with our own ambitions for the coming years – to help our customers make more sustainable choices by offering a broader range of  products that are electrified, smart and autonomous. 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 implementation of Husqvarna´s autonomous solution for mowing the solar park will happen in the 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 evaluating and qualifying 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, CEO of Alight.

Within this project we are developing new knowledge in an exciting rapidly growing field together with 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 e.g. biodiversity”, says Tobias Emilsson, researcher at SLU.

For further information, please contact:
Karin Tångstedt, Brand & PR Manager, +46 76 118 65 90, karin.tangstedt@husqvarnagroup.com

About Husqvarna Forest & Garden
Husqvarna is a brand and a division within the Husqvarna Group. Since 1689, Husqvarna Forest & Garden has manufactured high performing products and delivered industry-changing innovations such as anti-vibration and automatic chain-break on chainsaws, as well as robotic mowers. Today, Husqvarna Forest & Garden offers a broad range of high performing outdoor power products for parks, forest and garden, and represents technological leadership in the key areas: chainsaws, trimmers, ride-on mowers and robotic mowers. Products are sold in more than 100 countries, mainly through servicing dealers.

About Husqvarna Group
Husqvarna Group is a global leading producer of outdoor power products and innovative solutions for forest, park and garden care. Products include chainsaws, trimmers, robotic lawn mowers and ride-on lawn mowers. The Group is also the European leader in garden watering products and a global leader in cutting equipment and diamond tools for the construction and stone industries. The Group’s products and solutions are sold under brands including Husqvarna, Gardena, Orbit, McCulloch, Flymo, Zenoah and Diamant Boart via dealers and retailers to consumers and professionals in more than 100 countries. Net sales in 2020 amounted to SEK 42bn and the Group has around 13,000 employees in 40 countries.

About Alight
Alight builds, operates and owns solar projects, onsite and offsite, offering better power to large corporations at a predictable, competitive rate. With a focused team specializing in solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), we are dedicated to bringing success to the corporations we partner with through solar power. Alight has 46 solar assets under management or construction and a pipeline of 500 MW across Europe.

About SLU
SLU is a world-class international university with research, education and environmental assessment within the sciences for sustainable life. Within its field, SLU conducts education, research and environmental monitoring and assessment in collaboration with society at large. SLU has its principal sites at Alnarp, Uppsala and Umeå but a lot of activities are conducted at research stations, experimental and educational facilities spread out across Sweden. In total 4200 full time students are enrolled in education activities. SLU has around 3000 fulltime employees.