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The ups and downs of agrivoltaics in the South of France

By Vitisphere February 24, 2023
The ups and downs of agrivoltaics in the South of France
Will the visual impact of the photovoltaic shades in vineyards hinder their development? - crédit photo : DR

t the Florés co-operative winery in Florensac, Southern France, director Stéphane Roque makes no bones about his disappointment. The winery’s plans for an experimental vineyard under photovoltaic shades that it had been working on since 2019 has not been approved by the town council. “The mayor had agreed to our project, but his council did not give us the go-ahead”, explains Roque. The winery aimed to set up an experimental 6-hectare vineyard shaded by photovoltaic panels as well as 2 hectares of control vines.

The facilities do not involve any concrete, but the project was found to be alarming, even though a green hedge was due to be planted with trees to limit its visual impact”, adds Roque, who does not intend to give up. “This is a project that is dear to our hearts. Shade is a solution to global warming – it mitigates the effects of drought and high temperatures”.

The rejection comes in stark contrast to a project by the Leucate winery further down the coast, which has secured all the requisite administrative permission, despite the fact that it is located in a Natura 2000 zone. Work is underway at the winery, along the road to the beaches. The project includes 1 ha of vines under photovoltaic panels and 0.5 hectare of control vines. It will be monitored by the Chamber of Agriculture, IFV and INRA. “In addition to the experimental and innovative interest for vine growing, we also see it as an asset for developing wine tourism”, points out Lilian Copovi, chairman of the Leucate winery. The entire investment is being funded by Sun'Agri, the company that installs the framework with the panels. Work has begun and the vineyard is due to be planted at the end of the year.

A third project is being examined in Roquefort-des-Corbières. Nicolas Castan, a co-operative winegrower in Cap Leucate, has tasked Total Energies and Ombrea with installing photovoltaic panels over a 5-hectare area, which will then be planted to Syrah and Grenache blanc.



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