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Launch of the EVAPORE apple tree agrivoltaic demonstrator

EDF Renewables, SudExpé and Cybeletech sign a consortium agreement for the apple tree agrivoltaism demonstrator EVAPORE on the SudExpé site in Marsillargues in Hérault (34). Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer for commissioning at the start of the 2024 school year.

Photovoltaic panels will be installed on apple trees to study for at least three years, from 2025 to 2027, the cohabitation between fruit production and electricity production. Winner of the ADEME Sustainable Energy Research call for projects in September 2023, the EVAPORE demonstrator is an innovative and collective project, supported by EDF Renouvelables, which develops, builds and operates renewable energy production facilities, SudExpé, which will provide its technical and scientific expertise on apples, and Cybeletech, which develops innovative modeling tools for agriculture.

The EVAPORE demonstrator will be made up of eight rows of panels, spread over 2,000m2 within the SudExpé station, a professional experimentation and information structure serving the Fruits & Vegetables sector in the Midi Mediterranean. The panels will be attached to trackers to regulate shading in the orchard using real-time modeling of tree behavior. The alignment and spacing between the rows of panels will allow the passage of agricultural machinery on the site. Several varieties of apples will be tested, including some well-known ones such as Pink Lady or Granny Smith.

While the decree relating to the development of agrivoltaism was published in the Official Journal on April 8, 2024, the EVAPORE demonstrator will make it possible to test a solution making it possible to respond to the challenges encountered by apple growers, including frost, too much sunshine and water consumption. EDF Renewables and its partners adopt a scientific approach aimed at developing proven technology, developed in conjunction with professionals in the sector.  

Sofiane Boukebbous, Development Director for the South-East and Overseas zone, said : " For more than 5 years now, EDF Renewables has been investing in agrivoltaic research, now has three demonstrators in service and is developing around 70 agrivoltaic projects in France, reconciling crucial issues of sustainable food and energy production. In line with its raison d'être of supporting territories in their energy transition, EDF Renewables develops agrivoltaic projects while respecting agricultural uses and their sustainability, based on a territorial approach, close dialogue with stakeholders of the agricultural world and scientific support. »

Philippe Cavalier, President of SudExpé, said : " Agrivoltaism has experienced significant growth for several years with the arrival of new technologies such as mobile panels. For SudExpé, it is essential to acquire technical and economic references for the sector which will make it possible to qualify the degree of synergy between these two fruit and energy production systems. This is precisely what EVAPORE is doing. It is expected that the agrivoltaic structure will bring advantages, but also perhaps constraints to apple growing and EVAPORE will allow us to evaluate these elements in detail over the coming years at the service of our producers so that future projects are adapted at best to the specificities of apple growing. »

Christophe Shaw, Chairman and CEO of Cybeletech, said : “For 12 years Cybeletech has been working on plant knowledge and its modeling. EVAPORE is a very concrete example of collaboration between actors which makes it possible to implement these technologies for a double benefit: the production of renewable energy and the adaptation of apple growing in a context of climate change. It is the realization of the promise of an agriculture that is both productive and sustainable thanks to modeling and the “digital twin” of the plant. »

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