Because global warming will continue to impact the agricultural world (and Mediterranean vineyards in particular), it is of paramount importance – as of now – to find ways to protect the vines from the excessive heat and unpredictable weather conditions that come with climate change.
As part of this effort, a unique solar panel experiment is being conducted on 18.5 acres of vineyards at the Domaine de Nidolères in the Roussillon’s Les Aspres region. Such a program already exists in Japan with other crops, but this is the first time anywhere in the world that it is being implemented for grapevines.
Solar panels have been installed directly along the rows of vines; they are inclined differently (and controlled remotely via computer program from Lyon – HQ of SUN’R, the developer – with input on site from the INRA [French National Institute of Agricultural Research] and the local Chamber of Agriculture), depending on the position of the sun and general weather conditions, to respond to the needs of the vine. For example:
- Provide shade during a sunny period to prevent the leaves and clusters from scorching, which will help ripening, preserve aromas, and avoid excessively high sugar concentrations and loss of acidity
- Deflect wind, thus creating a favorable microclimate for proper growth and nourishment
- Protect against rain, thus reducing the risks of the development of mold.
The panels will be used exclusively for the vines during the most active growing season (beginning of June to end of August); the rest of the year, they produce electricity.
Researchers hope that this project will prove successful and will become part of the dynamic growth of the regulation of production in the Mediterranean vineyards.