PHOTOVOLTAIC GREENHOUSES, NON-SENSE OR A REAL OPPORTUNITY FOR THE GREENHOUSE SYSTEMS?
Due to its abundance, solar energy constitutes a major choice to face up to the decreasing reserve of fossil energies. Nowadays, many technological solutions are on offer to harness and convert solar energy for the sake of humankind. Agriculture, which has already played an important role in the past for the production of energy by using wood, is presently widely involved in this issue via biofuels. If these two systems are compared, the photovoltaic production with solar panels yields more than biofuels: 50 times more than bio-gas and 150 times more than bio-diesel. In spite of their positive aspects, a fundamental objection is raised regarding solar farms because of the required acreages. Even when these farms are installed in non-conflict lands, e.g. deserts in Spain, problems of excessive setting aside of some territories or the distance from energy zone remains. Rather than oppose agricultural and solar panel productions, it appears on the contrary more fruitful to search for possible synergy between both systems of production by combining them on the same territory. By definition, the photovoltaic panels create a physical surface able to protect cultures and can therefore be integrated within Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). Relevance, socio-economic and environmental acceptability of innovative systems combining photovoltaic panels and CEA must be assessed in a global manner. The main challenge for these mixed systems is to gain higher productiveness/quality and/or to obtain a lower impact on environment than both systems implemented in an independent area. The optimization of greenhouse designs including photovoltaic panels, the development of more transparent solar panel, and the selection of plants adapted to this particular system of production represent three technological research areas. Indeed, these challenges have to be faced and researched in the near future and perspectives of innovation must be taken into account from now on.
Poncet, C., Muller, M.M., Brun , R. and Fatnassi, H. (2012). PHOTOVOLTAIC GREENHOUSES, NON-SENSE OR A REAL OPPORTUNITY FOR THE GREENHOUSE SYSTEMS?. Acta Hortic. 927, 75-79
renewable energy, PV, biofuel, solar farm