Spain – As part of its PERSEO international start-up program, Iberdrola has selected four international projects to identify innovative solutions that promote the integration and co-existence of solar photovoltaic generation plants with agricultural and horticultural activities to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of facilities, the land use and biodiversity conservation.
Farming and solar photovoltaic installations can coexist on land that is suitable for both, and the solutions aim to find the best ways for these activities to work together and boost local economies. The projects that were showcased are all pro-energy and pro-climate change, and many of them are also located in areas that are experiencing rapid population growth.
To test their solutions, Iberdrola will provide the winning companies with technical and financial support to access the resources needed to develop them (equipment, teams and infrastructure and co-working areas) in a real-world setting. Depending on the success of a pilot project, Iberdrola may offer a commercial agreement or direct investment in the company through PERSEO to the participant.
In response to this challenge, the company received 110 proposals from 32 countries. Iberdrola has selected four winning companies, and will design projects in various locations:
- Irrigated crops: the Spanish company EcoEnergías del Guadiana has presented a pilot project to combine tomato cultivation under fixed or retractable structures that support solar panels, making possible to mitigate plant stress during heat waves, save water and improve harvest yields.
- Viticulture: the Winesolar project is a collaboration between three Spanish companies: Techedge (advance technological solutions), PVH (PV tracker and structure manufacturer) and Gonzalez Byass (Wine and Spirits with 14 wineries in Spain, Chile, Mexico and 3 distillery).
The challenge of mitigating and adapting to the climate change effects in viticulture is a major undertaking. The Winesolar solution will develop a photovoltaic system with an intelligent tracker adapted to generate shadow and protect vineyards. Additionally, an artificial intelligent algorithm will control those trackers to adapt them to the physiological needs of the vineyards, and in parallel optimize PV production.Data gathered by the sensors, rolled out in the vineyards to measure humidity, temperature, etc will also feed the algorithm. In short, Winesolar aims to help make vineyards more resilient to climate change and to be neutral or negative in terms of CO2 impact.
- For Fruit trees: Dynamic agrivoltaic solution. French startup Ombrea has developed a climate control and regulation system powered by artificial intelligence to protect crops against climate change. The remote solution, based on solar panels, spreads out and retracts in order to modulates light and shadow according to data collected on-site via sensors. The aim is to protect plants from extreme heat, drought, hail and frost.
- Bovine care: French company itk is developing science-based solutions to support the agricultural and agrifood sectors in adapting to climate change and decarbonizing agriculture while ensuring the performance and resilience of farms. Its FarmLife cow behavior monitoring and analysis platform aims to enhance time management and improve performance by providing decision-making data on 4 pillars of productivity: reproduction, nutrition, comfort and health.
Iberdrola has demonstrated that a competitive, clean, and sustainable energy supply can effectively coexist with environmental balance by fully integrating the biological diversity of ecosystems into its strategy.
For its new infrastructure projects, the company intends to achieve “zero net biodiversity loss” by 2030.
Biodiversity conservation is a major focus for Iberdrola, which has implemented more than 1,450 actions over the past three years to protect ecosystems, flora and fauna and natural heritage. Installing beehives to conserve biodiversity and promote the circular economy was the most recent project.
Many Iberdrola PV plants have a presence of bovine livestock. Sustainable cattle management plans developed by Iberdrola in collaboration with landowners help prevent overgrazing and ensure the protection and growth of plant species. Aside from controlling vegetation height and supplying nutrients and seeds to the soil, on-site cattle management promotes natural biodiversity.
A strategic alliance has been signed in Spain between Iberdrola and ASAJA in order to promote emission-free, sustainable agriculture and livestock farming. Efforts to improve energy efficiency and preserve biodiversity and the rural environment are the goals of a work plan that has been devised.
PERSEO international start-up programme
As part of Iberdrola’s PERSEO international start-up programme, PERSEO aims to facilitate Iberdrola’s access to technologies of the future and to promote the development of a global and dynamic ecosystem of technology companies and entrepreneurs in the electricity sector. If it can raise 85 million dollars from investors and another 40 millions from its own venture-building unit, it can achieve this goal by focusing on new areas related to electrification and those sectors that are difficult or impossible to decarbonize.
Perseo has invested 70 million euros in start-up companies developing innovative technologies and business models, focusing on those that improve energy sector sustainability through greater electrification and decarbonization of the economy since its inception in 2008. “
Rather than focusing on a single industry, the program has created an ecosystem of nearly 3,000 dynamic companies by analyzing global business opportunities and technological collaborations with start-ups and emerging firms. Eight companies are currently represented in the holdings of this investment vehicle.