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Solar for salads!

By Elana Knopp, Senior Content Writer

 

Photo Credit: StartupTicker

Innovation will be key to accelerating the clean energy transition and reaching a net zero economy. Edison Energy is following the latest innovations in decarbonization across technologies, projects, and programs, from conception through completion

The innovation

Solar modules for agriculture

The big picture

Operating greenhouses to grow light-and-heat-intensive vegetables and fruits consumes a significant amount of power, with farmers often having to carefully balance crop yields and economics with environmental concerns. The innovative solar modules are projected to significantly reduce CO2 emissions while generating renewable energy – and with no impact to crops.

The players

Voltiris, a startup of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL).

How it works

The concept is based on the fact that plants use light waves from only a portion of the spectrum for photosynthesis. The remainder can be recovered and converted into solar power.

Voltiris modules offer spectral filtering specific to crop production, combined with photovoltaic performance. Crops receive the light wavelengths they need in order to grow, while the rest are filtered and concentrated for electricity generation. Daily PV output is on par with conventional solar panels.

Modules can be adapted to any crop type including tomatoes, cucumbers, fruits, and flowers.

Why it matters

The Swiss federation of fruit and vegetable growers has set a target of eliminating all fossil fuel-based energy from its farming processes by 2040. According to Voltiris, the new solar modules can go a long way towards reaching that goal.

The solar modules allow a double use of agricultural land by producing electricity without reducing the yield of greenhouse crops placed beneath the modules. This enables greenhouse owners to fully leverage the surface of their greenhouses without having to worry about the yield of their crops.

Next steps

Following encouraging preliminary results, a new pilot installation was recently installed in Graubünden, Switzerland. The firm has plans to run more pilot tests in the Netherlands and Geneva before introducing its product on the market in the second half of 2023.

 


Stay tuned for the next installment of the Energy Edge Innovation Series!


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