Panneau solaire et vigne : alliance gagnante pour la vigne ?

Solar panel and vine: winning alliance for the vine?

At a time when the ecological transition is underway in many areas to counter and slow down global warming, the world of wine is not left out, and many innovations are being put in place to help winegrowers cope with the changes. climatic. Among the innovative technologies, solar panels are emerging in vineyards , for the most promising alliance. Let's see how the production of renewable energy can be profitable in our vineyards.

Solar panel in the vineyards: an exchange of good processes

On the one hand, we have producers who must meet the needs of an increasingly populated planet, and on the other, we urgently need to reduce the use of carbon-based energies , to preserve our environment and ensure a more neutral future.

If you combine the two, agrivoltaism , or the installation of photovoltaic systems in wineries, benefits everyone. This solution responds, in fact, to two major challenges:

  • The installation of solar panels requires a lot of space, which a wine estate can take care of since the agricultural area in France represents more than 30 million hectares ;
  • Winegrowers are increasingly faced with climatic hazards , and placing the vines under solar panels helps protect them from water stress and the sun.

Functioning like photovoltaic shade houses , these panel systems make it possible to produce green energy and help winegrowers cope with global warming.

Agrivoltaism: a project tested since 2016

Agrivoltaism is particularly interesting for viticulture, and it is this agricultural sector which seems most suited to this type of project. A control vine was therefore selected in 2016 to test this innovative project.

Photovoltaic panels of different shapes and sizes were installed above a few square meters of vines. Some devices were mobile, others fixed, in order to compare the most efficient installations for the development of the vines.

Carried out first by INRAE ​​and SupAgro Montpellier, then followed by the Chambers of Agriculture of Pyrénées-Orientales and Vaucluse, these installations were carried out 4 meters above the ground , so as not to obstruct the passage of machines. agricultural.

In 2022, the leading company in the field, Sun'Agri, deployed this agrivoltaic project on a larger scale, throughout the Mediterranean region.

Solar panels in the vineyards: a real interest for the winegrower?

Over the years, winegrowers have been confronted with the effects of global warming . Between the extreme heat, episodes of hail and frost, the vineyards are running out of water. These conditions seriously harm the development of the vines and the quality of the grapes, sometimes endangering the entire agricultural operation.

The solar panels then have the advantage of providing shade to the rows of vines and limiting exposure to the sun. The controlled shading system thus limits water stress, thanks to limited evapotranspiration.

Result: the impact of the photovoltaic panels above the vines is beneficial, since the resulting wines are fresher in the mouth, and have a lower alcohol content .

In winter, agrivoltaism is also of interest, since the panels allow the temperature to be raised by 2°C . This is therefore a real asset, especially in periods of frost.

The limits of solar panels in our vineyards

Of course, everything is not always rosy, and agrivoltaism has some limits. The major risk is very pragmatic: we are afraid of seeing winegrowers abandon viticulture in favor of the production of green electricity , which is more profitable. To counter this risk, a law has been put in place, and any agrivoltaic project must meet an Afnor standard which commits the producer to promoting their agricultural production and improving their farming plots.

Then, with a cost of €80,000 per hectare , we are entitled to wonder which winegrowers will be ready to undertake such a project.

Finally, many wonder what will become of the agricultural landscape , when each vine will be covered with a solar panel...

The combination of solar panels and vines seems to be a great opportunity for the wine industry. Not only does it contribute to the transition to cleaner energy, but it provides vines with better growing conditions. It remains to be seen whether winegrowers will be ready to embark on a project of such scale.

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