Light Passes through Panels, Encourages Plant Growth
Milan, Italy, February 22, 2011 – Solyndra, Inc., a manufacturer of cylindrical shaped photovoltaic (PV) systems, today announced a new solar application for agricultural greenhouse and shade structures that takes advantage of the ability of light to pass through Solyndra’s proven solar panel design. Installation of Solyndra’s unique solar panels on agricultural structures allows for dual use of land, and reliably supports existing agricultural practices, while generating considerable electricity. The Solyndra solution enhances plant growth by controlling shading and provides growers with an additional income stream and power for their operations. Research by renowned agricultural establishments, such as CeRSAA in Italy and the Department of Plant Sciences, University of California Davis, USA, has confirmed the superior nature of the panel design and their ability to support crop growth underneath while generating electricity.
“We are pioneering this new agricultural solar solution in Italy, where extensive shaded agriculture operations combined with strong insolation and a favorable feed-in tariff are driving strong interest and demand,” says Clemens Jargon, President EMEA and Corporate Senior Vice President of Solyndra.
Greenhouse manufacturers can easily integrate Solyndra panels onto the roof of a greenhouse or shade structure. Complete coverage with Solyndra panels maximizes energy output per acre and generates a uniform shading comparable to the light transferred through conventional shade structures or the process known as whitewashing. The cylindrical design of the modules enables them to capture sunlight and generate electricity from direct, diffuse and reflected light (see image 1). Growers with Solyndra-enhanced greenhouses may add an optional shade cloth to protect plants that require more shade during certain months of the year. Using a white cloth also allows some of the light to reflect back onto the tubes thereby increasing the energy output of the system. A venting system at the gables can also be used, since air circulation is important for plant health.
“This product, which supports plant growth and provides both shade and a distributed power source is the best idea I have seen for what could ultimately be the ideal application of solar power – dual purpose agricultural-land use,” says Dr. Giovanni Minuto of CERSAA, a research center in Albenga, Italy, who has been evaluating the Solyndra system over the past year with a variety of plant types and under various weather conditions.
Test sites at prestigious agricultural research establishments like CeRSAA and the Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, have demonstrated that plants, such as tomatoes and ornamental flowers grow well in the partial shading provided by Solyndra systems.
While the use of Solyndra panels on agricultural greenhouses is relatively new, Solyndra solar panel technology has been proven in installations on more than 1000 commercial and industrial rooftops around the world. Panels come with mounting solutions and cable management systems, which are then integrated into greenhouse structures by leading manufacturers in Italy. Currently, multiple megawatts of agricultural installations are underway. Solyndra also offers a solution for the rooftops of large, flat agricultural warehouses and distribution centers.
Solyndra is working with leading greenhouse manufacturers, EPCs (engineering, procurement, construction) and banks in Italy. Interested growers and agricultural cooperatives should contact Solyndra to be put in touch with an integrator in their area.