Proof by facts. By continuing to develop projects in agrivoltaism, the electricity producer TSE wants to demonstrate that agriculture and electricity go hand in hand. The challenge is daunting, as there are so many skeptics. The company inaugurates this Thursday its second agricultural canopy in Brouchy (Somme). The term canopy refers to solar panels installed overhanging crops - or pastures.
The construction of the Brouchy one was completed in June 2023. It is installed on Benoît Bougler's farm, which has about 450 hectares of useful agricultural area. The agricultural canopy is installed on a field area of 3 hectares, in irrigable area and will "produce a power of 2.9 megawatts, equivalent to the consumption of 1,650 inhabitants," explains Mathieu Dubonnet, the president of TSE. The solar panels are installed on cables, located between 4.5 and 5 meters above the crops to allow the passage of large agricultural machinery. The first corn seedlings were carried out under the facility.
"As always, we compare the yields of two plots: a control, the other under the canopy," explains Mathieu Dubonnet. At the moment, corn under the canopy is almost as high as its neighbors, despite a planting delay." This is good news for the farmer and the energy producer, while the particularly rainy summer experienced by the region could have favoured unsheltered cultivation. "We will really be able to draw a balance sheet after a full year of exploitation and observation," tempers Mathieu Dubonnet.
Indeed, the installation is full of connected sensors, especially to manage the irrigation of the field. In detail, the irrigation system is adapted to each rectangle, the size of a solar panel, 27 meters by twelve, allowing to adapt the water inputs to each of these small plots. The aim is to reduce irrigation needs. The establishment of a fixed irrigation system is also essential, since large mobile irrigation structures would not pass under the canopy.
In addition, the solar panels are bi-facial, remotely adjustable to optimize electricity production and sunlight for the crops below. To do this, TSE has developed its own algorithms, "a necessary cost", according to Mathieu Dubonnet, who bets on an acceleration of this type of installations.