TSE, the leading independent solar energy company in France, has inaugurated its first agrivoltaic demonstration site on field crops in Amance (Haute-Saône). The experimental project covers an area of 5 hectares.
Last April, TSE announced the development of the largest agrivoltaic demonstration site in France, featuring its “agricultural canopy” system. The agricultural canopy, designed primarily for field crops, is a shading structure equipped with rotating solar panels installed at a height of 5m above farmland.
“After more than 3 years in research and development, today we are pleased to unveil our first pilot site. At TSE, we believe that it is possible to reconcile sustainable agriculture, green energy, biodiversity protection and water resource conservation: this is the goal of the ambitious programme that we have designed and are currently implementing on 9 other sites in France. Our approach relies on constant dialogue and close collaboration with farmers and all stakeholders involved. We are proud to actively contribute to the economic development and the sustainable energy transition in our regions, especially at a time when concern has intensified over our energy independence and accelerating the deployment of renewable energy sources in France”, explained Mathieu Debonnet, President of TSE.
The Amance agricultural canopy: an “agritech” innovation from a French company
Launched in October of 2021, the construction of TSE’s first agricultural canopy was completed in June 2022 in Amance, in the Haute-Saône départment. 75% of the investment amount is French and/or European.
The project is being conducted in the heart of a 850-hectare farm. The shading system covers an area of 3 hectares of field crops, including soya, wheat, forage rye, winter barley and rapeseed. The panels generate 2.4MWp, equivalent to the consumption of 1350 households.
Over the past decade, the farm has experienced very hot and dry summers. The agricultural canopy system is equipped with trackers that automatically tilt the solar panels along the sun’s axis from east to west, generating partial shade that moves over the plot over the course of the day, reducing heat and water stress. The agrivoltaic canopy will thus help the Amance farmer to fight against climate hazards by reducing evapotranspiration and lowering the temperature under the canopy in the summer.
Using “agri-tech” technology with cables guaranteeing a minimal footprint (0.5% with 27m between two posts), the agricultural canopy is compatible with the use of most agricultural machinery (combine harvesters, sprayers, etc.). The Amance farmer’s land use and farming habits and practices thus remain unaffected by the system.
INRAE, Alliance BFC and Purpan: leading scientific partners
Agronomic trials will be carried out over a 9-year period on a 5-hectare area to show the relevance and effectiveness of the agricultural canopy on different farming practices, with a 3 ha plot covered by the shading system and a 2 ha control plot.
A joint research project was set up with the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE). The team from the National Centre for Research, Innovation, and Teaching on Agri-Photovoltaics (PNR-AgriPV) in Lusignan will analyse the agronomic behaviour of varieties of several field crop species under the agrivoltaic shading system (vegetative growth, foliar biomass, photosynthetic activity, productivity, etc.) and study the direct and diffuse PAR radiation under the solar panels.
The agronomic teams from Alliance BFC, a union of three agricultural cooperatives, will participate in conducting the trials and in the measurements and analysis of the results alongside TSE’s R&D teams, as part of the partnership signed with Alliance BFC last April.
“We have already made interesting observations since we planted soya beans in early June 2022: the soil under the agrivoltaic shading system is cooler and retains humidity better. We will continue monitoring with TSE’s teams to measure the effects of these conditions on the soya beans’ development, with the aim of sharing our results in the autumn with our farmers who are very much looking forward to our technical feedback on these innovative systems”, explained Martin Lechenet, from the R&D department of Alliance BFC.
Finally, the R&D department of the Purpan agronomic engineering school is assisting TSE with the scientific protocols for applied research, the transversal monitoring of the trials and the mechanistic analysis of all of TSE’s pilot sites.
For more information about TSE’s agricultural canopy system, download the press release below.Back