This year some wine producers had to move the harvest. High temperatures and drought condition the maturity of some grape varieties, affecting the amount of wine they produce and its quality. A problem, common to other crops, is that the climate crisis promises to worsen and against which agriculture must find allies even with old enemies such as photovoltaic energy, to work in favor of plantations rather than competition for land . can go That marriage work is the work of companies like Agrivoltaic Technology and PowerfulTree.

And how is it possible that solar panels and plants can coexist? How is it achieved that a photovoltaic panel – and its endless shadow – prevents any plants from being cut down on its side? Well, by manipulating that shade so that it fits all the time to the needs of the plants with which it shares the land. We can say that the panel, in addition to performing its function and generating energy at a certain cost, serves as a sophisticated awning that, on the other hand, also protects against rain and hail.

follow the sun

The first technology that allows this is already being used in photovoltaic panels to follow the Sun. The angle at which the rays reach the surface of the plate affects the amount of energy generated, so the panels have axis systems that allow them to travel east to west and north to south, following the Sun. It tries to ensure that at all times – and times of the year – that angle is the best. «We use this same method to adjust the movement of the plate to the light and shade needs of the plants. In fact, the panels we use are the same as any other solar park. The difference lies in their use. Or rather, its main use, which is not here to get energy, but to improve the condition of the plants”, explained one of the startup partners, Emanol Olaskoga.

The algorithm that determines at each moment which shading map to configure the solar panels is fed with the data generated by a set of sensors, each to cover the potential changes of the ground within a plantation. Hectares were stored in triplicate. “We monitor the indicators that allow us to calculate the amount of carbon absorbed by the plant—such as the amount of growth or the number of leaves that fall—, the moisture of the plant and the soil or even—that, through captivity of radiation, the temperature of the leaves at all times”, details Olascoga.

To these sensors we need to add sensors that hang on the plates and measure the incident radiation, temperature and humidity of the environment. Finally, from the moment the berries are seen, the algorithm also includes possible recommendations that come from the samples taken by the winners. To facilitate these shading map validations, PowerfulTree is working on technology that will allow it to create digital twins of each plant. This will make it possible to gather data from all the monitored plantations and its analysis will generate predictions that will be used to predict decisions. “The problem is that to generate more data, more plants are needed, so to have two plants a year and double the generation of information, we will apply data from both hemispheres,” said Olascoga. insisted.

Another goal of the company is to develop its own photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) sensors—which will allow plants to know when plants use light best—to reduce the cost of such devices. That now the cost is 40,000 euros per unit.

The company is currently in the bidding process with Repsol for two projects—one for vineyards in Spain and coffee plantations in Brazil—and another for olive groves, which are expected to be operational in two years. By then, Powerfultree hopes to have 1.7 million invoices and five European patents, add fruit trees to the crops it works with and expand its workforce by hiring agronomists and engineers in energy and data management experts. done. To achieve these goals, it needs an investment of 450,000 euros, so it will participate in B-Venture on October 18 and 19, the startup event organized by EL Coro with the sponsorship of the Department of Economic Development, Sustainability and Environment. Government, SPRI Development Agency, Provincial Council of Bizkiah and Bilbao City Council. As well as the support of BStartup from Banco Sabadell, BBK, Laboral Kutxa, Caixabank, BBVA and Duesto University.

mighty tree

Dedicated engineering in agricultural technology, which combines the use of land for agricultural production and clean energy.

From Colombia to Minano with a short stop in Alcoyu

Although the company is based in the Alva Technology Park since this year, it has its roots in Popayán, Colombia. From there Juan Diego Díaz, a young engineer concerned about the effects of excessive heat on coffee crops, became interested in something that had been studied experimentally for two decades. His idea reached the ears of the Valencian entrepreneur and investor lvaro Soler, who saw the potential of the initiative under the Spanish sun and encouraged Díaz to move to Alcoy. Later it was Imnol Olaskoga, at the time the creator of new MCC projects, who joined the startup and convinced them both to move to CIF in Minano. “This is something that German and French engineering companies are already working on, so time is important if we don’t want to rely on foreign technology. And Euskadi has no sun, but more than other regions.” The scientific resources are there. We want something similar to happen in wind energy, which we are leading even without a wind farm,” he said.

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