French photovoltaic greenhouse delivers 3.1 GWh and 4 tons/hectare of asparagus in one year


From pv magazine France

In April 2017, French renewable energy developer Tenergie commissioned its first photovoltaic greenhouse based on its proprietary technology Tenairlux, in Mallemort, in the Bouches-du-Rhône region of southern France. The plant was built with 265 W panels and has an installed power of 2.1 MW.

“Four years after the commissioning of this 33,000m² greenhouse, our feedback is positive, with a yield of four tons/hectare for this first year of growing green asparagus from Provence, after a period of diversified cultivation including zucchini, turnips, [and] sweet potatoes during the first three years and a production of 3.1 GWh of green electricity, which is the equivalent of the consumption of 700 households, excluding heating,” the company wrote in a detailed report. For 2022, the expected agricultural yield is expected to increase to nine tons/hectare.

“From the start of this project, we co-built the specifications with Laurent Chabert, market gardener and manager of family winery Domaine Saint Vincent, so that his tool fully meets his expectations,” Tenergie president Nicolas Jeuffrain explained. “Resolutely efficient and innovative, thanks in particular to the installation of photovoltaic modules, this tailor-made solution allows, in particular, better light diffusion and better ventilation and a more uniform temperature.”

Among the advantages of this greenhouse concept, the installation of photovoltaic modules makes it possible to reduce the shadow cast on the ground (36% against 52% for a conventional greenhouse). The light is better exploited by the use of filtering and diffusing polycarbonate, thus improving the uniformity of the light on the ground. Ventilation based on a roof-opening system coupled with a full-side motorized opening–controlled according to the indoor climate and outdoor weather constraints–is claimed to allow precise climate control.

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“On the one hand, for this first year of growing asparagus in the Tenairlux greenhouse, we are producing particularly exceptional product quality,” said Chabert, adding that asparagus picking will end this year in mid-April. “On the other hand, thanks to its large volume and its very innovative design, the ventilation, brightness, and temperature of the greenhouse are clearly optimized for better climate management, but also, time savings and working conditions.”

Tenergie wants to develop around 30 greenhouses of this kind within three years. About ten projects are currently under study. The company is also working on other possible synergies with the agricultural world, in particular on projects related to anaerobic digestion.

To date, 75% of solar power plants operated by Tenergie are linked to the agricultural world, such as greenhouses or the renovation of roofs of agricultural buildings. In France, Tenergie owns and operates a fleet of more than 1,000 solar and wind power plants with an installed capacity of 615 MW.

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