A new photovoltaic (PV) system designed by French company Ecovégétal increases energy yields by up to 10% by combining solar power generation with urban agriculture.
The system increases energy production because the green space, planted with “meadow-type vegetation” selected for its high evapotranspiration capacity, acts as a temperature regulator under the PV panels and keeps the space cool.
The Héliovert system was inspired by studies conducted by Cerema, a French public agency for developing public expertise in urban planning. The technology emerged out of several years of research conducted as a part of the PROOF project, which aims to determine how a green rooftop can contribute to the electrical efficiency of a solar panel, reports PV Magazine France.
The system uses drains installed over an entire roof that are then covered by a plastic slab, which doubles as a water drainage basin and a frame on which to secure the PV panels. A substrate—consisting of mineral aggregates with organic matter—is then spread over the roof and vegetation planted in it, PV Magazine says.
The vegetation under the panels lowers the rooftop’s temperature by several degrees, especially in hot weather, which in turn brings down the operating temperature of the panels. The added vegetation can also reduce the risk of fire, while increasing local biodiversity in the urban environment by providing habitat for birds and pollinating insects.
The panels can be oriented south or east-west depending on local geography and biodiversity. Among the company’s first projects is a planted area of 990-square-metres, 790 of which will be covered with 395 solar modules, the news story states.