French firm puts 5,500 solar panels on a farm producing food and energy while combating climate crisis

The 'agrivoltaic' experiment produced 2.5 megawatts of power during peak hours.
Baba Tamim
A farmer drives a combine harvester to collect soybeans under hanging solar panels on an agrivoltaic site in Amance, eastern France, on October 12, 2022.
A farmer drives a combine harvester to collect soybeans under hanging solar panels on an agrivoltaic site in Amance, eastern France, on October 12, 2022.

PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP via Getty Images 

A solar energy firm in France is running a large scale experiment to find out whether solar energy can be produced without interfering with agriculture.

TSE, a solar energy firm, is running the experiment in the Haute-Saône region of the country's northeast, according to a report by Euronews published on Wednesday.

"The aim was to be able to meet France's needs in terms of renewable energy development, without pre-empting agricultural land," said Xavier Guillot, head of agronomy research and development at TSE.

"[This would] allow the continued development of agronomic and agricultural activities, in this case, in field crops as well as in livestock."

The company wants to know if solar energy can be produced without interfering with extensive cereal plantings in the area.

And if the merger is successful, it might revolutionize both the solar energy and agricultural industries.

Agrivoltaics and France

The practice of utilizing the land for both agricultural and solar energy is known as agrivoltaics. And it has become very popular since Europe is slowly edging towards an energy crisis.

Agrivoltaics has already been experimented in France through smaller-scale programs.

However, TSE, one of the major solar energy generators in France, is putting 5,500 solar panels on this farm near the commune town of Amance to determine if it can succeed on an industrial scale.

The company claimed that the solar panels used in their experiment produces 2.5 megawatts of power during peak hours, which is equal to the energy used by 1,350 people.

According to TME, it will be wired into the electrical grid sometime in early December.

The solar panels can move vertically and follow the course of the sun, allowing rain to pass. Depending on the weather, they can reduce hail damage, cause the earth to rise, or cause the temperature to drop a few degrees Celsius.

Guillot explained that the target “is to allow farmers to keep producing food while providing shade to protect crops from climate change - like the droughts and very hot weather seen this summer.”

Deepening energy crisis in EU

More than 100,000 people took to the streets in France on Tuesday (Oct .18) to demand higher wages to deal with rising energy prices and inflation.

Around 28 percent of the country's gas outlets are either out of gasoline or diesel, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

The escalating energy crisis in Europe serves as a warning to President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders about the political uncertainties they face as the Ukraine conflict rages on with no resolution in sight.

France isn't the only country, protests also rocked other European nations due to persistent cost-of-living crises, fuel shortages, and the government's unwillingness to address the situation.

About 40 percent of the gas consumed in the EU was supplied by pipeline from Russia, which has been reduced by 75 percent.

Russia has said earlier that this is the natural consequence of economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West.

The Russia-Ukraine war has kept the rest of Europe on edge, but efforts by various entities to wean Europe off Russian energy have pushed the continent toward greener solutions.

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