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Mixing Wine Grapes and Solar Panels

It's a recipe that produces several beneficial results. As global wineries are hit with impacts of climate change, a new project called Winesolar in Spain is innovating ways for vineyards to protect their grapes while also generating clean energy.

Solar panels positioned over vines in Spain
Credit: Iberdrola

Iberdrola, an energy company based in Bilbao, Spain, has created a shelter for growing wine grapes at vineyards in Guadamur. The shelter is made with a few solar panels that generate about 40 kW of energy, which will be used by the González Byass and Grupo Emperador wineries. The solar panel shelter creates a microclimate by shading or exposing plants from the sun and offering some relief from high temperatures while also minimizing evaporation after watering crops.

While combining solar energy and agricultural land is not new, one component that makes the Winesolar project stand out is that it will have a tracking system, with trackers from PVH, that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to determine the most efficient solar panel positioning over the vines at any time, according to Iberdrola.

Sensors in the vineyards will record data including soil humidity, wind conditions, solar radiation, and even vine thickness to find the optimal position for the solar panels, giving the vines a fighting chance against the effects of climate change.

“The installation will help to improve the quality of the grapes, allow a more efficient use of the land, reduce the consumption of irrigation water and improve the crop’s resistance to climatic conditions in the face of rising temperatures and increasingly frequent heat waves,” Iberdrola explained.

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