Iberdrola announces winners of agrivoltaic contest


Spain-based energy company Iberdrola has selected four projects through the contest it launched in May to identify competitive and innovative solutions to combine solar PV plants with activities related to agriculture, horticulture, livestock, fish-farming, or bee-keeping. The company said it received 110 proposals from 32 countries.

Only one of the four selected projects is not specifically relying on PV as an electricity source –that of French company Itk – which will provide its FarmLife cow behavior monitoring and analysis platform for improving a farm's performance and resilience. The other three projects are all schemes related to the combination of agricultural activities with solar power generation.

One of them will be developed by Spanish renewable energy company EcoEnergías del Guadiana, which aims to set up tomato cultivation under a PV system built on fixed or retractable structures. These should protect the crops during heat waves, save water, and improve harvest yields.

The second project will be developed by Italian software provider Techedge, Spanish tracker manufacturer PVH, and Gonzalez Byass, which is one of Spain's most well-known sherry bodegas. “The Winesolar solution will develop a photovoltaic system with an intelligent tracker adapted to generate shadow and protect vineyards,” said Iberdrola. “Additionally, an artificial intelligent algorithm will control those trackers to adapt them to the physiological needs of the vineyards, and in parallel optimize PV production.”

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The third project was proposed by French startup Ombrea, which has developed a solar-blind technology with sliding PV panels. “The remote solution, based on solar panels, spreads out and retracts in order to modulate light and shadow according to data collected on-site via sensors,” Iberdrola said. “The aim is to protect plants from extreme heat, drought, hail and frost.”

The contest's winner will be financially backed by the Spanish utility to develop and build their projects. In addition, Iberdrola will provide technical support to test the proposed solutions, by giving them access to equipment, teams, infrastructures, high-tech sites, and co-working areas.

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