EU Awards $5M To Greenhouse Solar Panel Project
The EU has awarded €5.3 million ($5.6 million) to an Israeli-led project that puts solar panels on greenhouse roofs.
The Regace Consortium, a group of international research institutes and businesses, will use the funds to further develop the innovative technology.
Israeli startup TriSolar developed a prototype using software, sunlight tracking, and sensors to control the amount of light plants receive, and maximize the electricity the panels generate.
The Regace plan is for greenhouse owners to produce clean energy, as an alternative to clearing large swaths of land for rows of solar panels.
This creates new value chains of food growers who become an important part of the energy economy, creating solar energy jobs in farm economy regions.
The Regace system will enrich greenhouses that don’t receive a lot of sunshine with carbon dioxide, so as to increase crop yields and maximize solar energy production.
The consortium consists of research institutes and businesses from Germany, Austria, Greece, Italy, Belgium and Israel.
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Solar panels and plants can actually benefit one another. Too much sun increases the water demand of plants, but solar panels can be positioned to give them just the right amount of sunlight, and harvest the excess as electricity.
Plants benefit solar panels too by cooling them down and making them more productive. Studies have found that solar panels above plants can produce up to 10 percent more electricity.
“The Regace technology will allow the dual use of land and infrastructure and will lead to reduced construction and maintenance costs, duration of execution, and the reduction of CO2 emissions caused by conventional agrivoltaic installations,” said Regace coordinator and TriSolar founder Dr. Ibrahim Yehia.
“Regace will have a significant positive effect on ecological environmental sustainability and reduced ecological footprint. The project’s outputs will contribute to the diversification of the energy producing market, enabling small holding greenhouse owners to play a significant role in the market.”
The funding was awarded through the Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme, which tackles climate change and helps to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a call to action by all countries to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. It has a budget of €95.5 billion ($102 billion).