Swiss berries grown under a photovoltaic system


Is it possible to feed the citizens and the network at the same time? The construction of the Insolagrin Conthey in Valais (Switzerland), a solar power plant, provides some answers. The first raspberries for the project were harvested at the end of the summer, launching a four-year program to analyze and optimize agricultural and electricity yields.“This is the first time – in the world – that our new agrivoltaic technology has been deployed on a large-scale pilot,” said the Insolagrin team. “These results could pave the way for large-scale and unprecedented solar deployments, providing a new solution without additional land use. ”

Insolagrin is an agrivoltaic solution that allows dual land use without compromise. Translucent solar modules replace the plastic tunnels commonly used in agriculture and provide efficient energy production and crop protection. More than a solar installation, the insolagrine is a new tool for farmers. It allows dynamic light adjustment to optimize crop growth with seasons and climate changes.

The pilot project, created by the three Insolight partners, Romande Energie and Agroscope, has been operational on the Agroscope site in Conthey (VS) since July 2021. The installation, supported by the Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) , covers an area of ​​165m2 and will be used for the cultivation of raspberries – and strawberries from 2022 – under shelter in pots. Insolight develops and supplies solar module technology and light control system. Agroscope studies plant physiology, yields and crop quality. Romande Energie built the installation and supervises energy production. Over the next four years, agricultural and electrical yield data will be collected and analyzed to optimize plant performance.

Research to optimize a unique agrivoltaic solution
The pilot plant was developed to replace and improve crop protection against bad weather, while producing energy. It allows Agroscope to study the impact of light conditions on crop development. The objective is to use these agronomic data to adjust the algorithm for controlling photovoltaic modules, irrigation and nutrient supply according to the plant species, the stage of development and the amount of sunshine. At the same time, Romande Energie will assess the solar electricity production of the installation during the four years of the project. The infrastructure will also be optimized according to the needs of the farm.

This research should make it possible to produce solar energy while maintaining, or even increasing, the quantity and quality of the fruits harvested under solar modules.

Research to optimize a unique agrivoltaic solution
The pilot plant was developed to replace and improve crop protection against bad weather, while producing energy. It allows Agroscope to study the impact of light conditions on crop development. The objective is to use these agronomic data to adjust the algorithm for controlling photovoltaic modules, irrigation and nutrient supply according to the plant species, the stage of development and the amount of sunshine. At the same time, Romande Energie will assess the solar electricity production of the installation during the four years of the project. The infrastructure will also be optimized according to the needs of the farm.

This research should make it possible to produce solar energy while maintaining, or even increasing, the quantity and quality of the fruits harvested under solar modules.

Convincing additional solar potential on rooftops
The potential of agrivoltaic structures that benefit both crops and electricity production is significant. In Switzerland, nearly 4,600 hectares could be considered, representing a power of 5 gigawatt-peak, or the equivalent of the consumption of 800,000 to 1,200,000 households. The ambition is to provide a new solution for large-scale photovoltaic deployments, without additional impact on the soil and reducing the carbon footprint of crops. In this regard, an important signal was sent by the Federation of Migros Cooperatives which decided to support the project.

This is a first step towards the future of positive energy crops, offering prospects for sustainable development for the food and energy sectors.

The project is supported by the pilot and demonstration program of the Federal Office of Energy.

For more information:

Contacts
Insolight
Laurent Coulot
CEO and co-founder
[email protected]

Romande Energie
Caroline Monod
+41 21 802 95 78
[email protected]

About Irene J. O'Donnell

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