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Last update: May 2021

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Innovative study of agrivoltaism at Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech

Innovative study of agrivoltaism at Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech
Photovoltaic panels have been appearing on large farms for about 15 years. For the first time, a team of researchers from Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech is going to focus on this photovoltaic (or agrivoltaic) technology on human-scale crops.

Why is this happening? To be able to ask the right questions in terms of profitability and environmental footprint.

"PV Follow Functions"

There are many arguments in favor of developing this technology: making the most of unexploited land, a gesture for the planet, direct savings on electricity bills, income diversification, etc. At Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, research in urban agriculture has been underway for over ten years. Infrastructures (rooftop greenhouses, micro-farm and soil-less cultivation) are being deployed there. A new stage has been reached with the arrival of photovoltaics. "In a single place, we will be able to compare how the same vegetable grows on three production systems, with or without photovoltaics. We will then be able to achieve better agronomic, energy and economic yields," explains Prof. Haïssam Jijakli, founder of the C-RAU (Centre de Recherche en Agriculture Urbaine) and coordinator of this urban agrivoltaics project.

This urban agrivoltaism project is called "PV Follow Functions" because the photovoltaic panels adapt to the functions required by the type of crop or building. Financed by Interreg Grande Région, this research will take place at the WASABI site located in the territory of Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech. The installation of the panels is scheduled to take place there in the spring of 2021. The project will continue until the end of 2022 in order to carry out the research over several cycles and seasons.