First ‘vitivoltaic’ power plant inaugurated in France

First ‘vitivoltaic’ power plant inaugurated in France

First ‘vitivoltaic’ power plant inaugurated in France

/ Renewables / Thursday, 15 November 2018 13:14

The first French “vitivoltaic” power plant, which combines vineyards and solar panels, was inaugurated in Tresserre in the Pyrénées –Orientales, France, as part of an experimental project.

It is the “first agrivoltaic demonstrator in the world, with remotely piloted panels” that meet the needs of the plant, said Antoine Nogier, founder of Sun'R company who manages the project.

Installed on metal structures more than 4m above ground level, the new photovoltaic panels cover 4.5 hectares of vineyards in the Nidolères family estate, representing 30% of the surface area. The seedlings of the different grape varieties - Grenache Blanc, Chardonnay or Marselan Rouge - are not hidden from the sun because the panels can be swung out to provide the necessary light for the vine.

The system makes it possible to respond to the physiological needs of the plants in an optimal way thanks to a software built after research on the benefit of shading for plants and sensors measuring sunshine or hydrometry of the soil.

The installation and monitoring of the system during “10 to 15 years” are fully supported by the operator Sun'R, because “this experiment also represents a risk for the farmer” and because we must see “how the vine reacts,” acknowledges Nogier.

“Starting next year, we will see the evolution of the plants,” said Sun'R CEO. “In terms wine quality, we will have to wait a few years, 3 in minimum”.

In return, the installation has financial advantages, first because “the power plant will bring 5 000 euros per hectare of value added to the farmer”, or close to “one euro per liter of wine”, and because the shade provided to the plants makes it possible “to save 20 to 30% of water according to the crops”. A figure that could still increase, given the global warming. “If we do not adapt, the vineyards will disappear,” he says, because “the climate in 20 years will be radically different from today.”

“This type of plant is promising, it's only just beginning,” says Sun'R, which is currently studying 10 to 20 agrivoltaic projects for arboriculture, market gardening and vine growing around the Mediterranean and the Rhone basin.

The Tresserre power station cost 4 million euros and the overall project amounts for the moment to 21 million, including research and development costs.

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