Agrivoltaics: cultivating solar energy to build a more sustainable future – Total

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Jean-Phillipe Rives: When TotalEnergies offered me an array like a row of windows, I realized it was perfect for me. It offers shade and produces electricity.

Yvannah Evrard: We’re in Villemoustaussou, near Carcassonne, southern France. We developed a 3,000m² solar garden over vines and pomegranate using technology developed by Ombrea, consisting of sliding awnings controlled by an algorithm according to the need to protect the plants. We built a demonstrator to learn about the technology and agronomic benefits.

Frédéric Lenoir: We often try to personalize our projects and add additional tools to the structure to capture water or attenuate weather events. That’s how we make a unique project for the landowners we work with. Solar gardens are an emerging market. We want to work with the stakeholders: institutions, agricultural unions, farmers. We signed an agreement a year ago with FNSEA, the main French agricultural union.

Yvannah Evrard: We’re really solving a problem for the farmers, environmental or economic.

Jean-Phillipe Rives: It can get extremely hot here, with sun exposure that burns the plants. These panels reduce the heat on the leaves. Without burning, the fruit will ripen much more naturally. The panel system will save me about 20-30% of water.

Yvannah Evrard: The advantage of solar gardens for TotalEnergies is getting access to land, which is growing scarce and the farmers strengthen their business model for the coming years.

Frédéric Lenoir: France is a step ahead in this kind of project, with more technologies and crops. We can work in other countries according to context and the personalization for the type of agriculture. At TotalEnergies Renouvelables France, the energy mix is changing. In ten years or so, solar gardens will account for 25% of our production capacity.

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