Spanish vineyards use solar panels to protect wine grapes

As global vineyards are impacted by the impacts of climate change, a new project called Winesolar in Spain is innovating for vineyards to protect their grapes while generating clean energy.

Iberdrola, an energy company based in Bilbao, Spain, has created a shelter for growing wine grapes in the vineyards of Guadamur. The shelter is made up of a few solar panels that generate around 40 kW of energy, which will be used by the González Byass and Grupo Emperador wineries. The solar panel shelter creates a microclimate by shading or exposing plants to the sun and providing some relief from high temperatures while minimizing evaporation after crop watering.

While the combination of solar power and farmland is nothing new, one thing that sets the Winesolar project apart is that it will have a tracking system, with PHV trackers, that uses artificial intelligence ( IA) to determine the most efficient positioning of solar panels on the vines at any time, according to Iberdrola. Techedge, an IT company, will help the solar panel project further the wineries’ agricultural goals.

Sensors in vineyards will record data such as soil moisture, wind conditions, solar radiation and even vine thickness to find the optimal position for solar panels, giving vines a fighting chance against effects of climate change.

“The installation will help improve the quality of the grapes, allow more efficient land use, reduce irrigation water consumption and improve the crop’s resistance to climatic conditions in the face of rising temperatures and heat waves. increasingly frequent,” Iberdrola explained in a statement.

Although the project is a small pilot project, Iberdrola plans to expand the idea to other Spanish vineyards, in addition to adding an additional 1,500 megawatts of solar panels across Spain. The company has installed 2,200 MW so far in 2022 and installed 800 MW last year, as reported by CleanTechnica.

The project is an example of growing interest in agrovoltaics, or a balance between photovoltaic energy and agriculture through the installation of solar panels on farms. Agrovoltaic projects aim to improve sustainability and make agriculture more efficient. Although not a new concept — it was first conceived in the early 1980s — it has become increasingly popular in recent years for its potential environmental and economic benefits.

“As far as the environment is concerned, the main advantage of agrovoltaics is that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector,” Iberdrola said on its website. “Furthermore, the dual use of land for both agriculture and energy relieves pressure on ecosystems and biodiversity, which are affected when cultivation areas are expanded.”

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