We speak with the finalist of the Solar Start Up Award 2021, Insolight, about their work on innovative agrivoltaics.
- Can you tell us a little bit about your product and how it works?
Insolight is developing highly efficient and translucent photovoltaic modules for agrivoltaics, aiming to combine solar energy and agriculture on the same land without trade-offs. Conventional solar installations degrade agricultural yields, as they shade crops too much. Our THEIA module (Translucency and High Efficiency in Agrivoltaics) is more than a solar panel: it’s also an agronomic tool to optimize agricultural yield. This is made possible thanks to our patented optical micro-tracking technology, which enables a dynamic adjustment of light on crops, optimizing their growth over seasons. The excess of sunlight is harvested efficiently into electricity, enabling a real dual use of land. Our solution can thus replace agricultural shading systems in plastic tunnels or greenhouses, opening up large installation deployments – for example, berries alone represent a 220’000 Ha (300 GWp) deployment potential in Europe.
- What innovative solutions does your product open up that weren’t there before?
This solar installation is also an agricultural tool, providing dynamic light adjustments and producing “energy-positive” fruits. This creates a clear value for farmers and replaces their current shading systems.
It therefore opens the door for a paradigm shift in agrivoltaics in which solar developers can benefit from an additional revenue stream beyond electricity sale, as the solar installation becomes an agronomic tool that doesn’t affect land use nor landscape.
- Do you have any feedback or advice for someone currently launching a solar start up innovation?
The solar industry is becoming extremely mature, with great products already on the market. Solar electricity is already very competitive in many places and should be deployed fast to mitigate climate change. Innovators should therefore target to complement those existing solutions, by opening up additional deployment possibilities.
Furthermore, it is also essential to demonstrate solutions in the field as soon as possible and bring inventions out of the labs. A final advice could be to talk to customers (solar installers) to learn about the current market trends and listen to their current challenges. This puts startups in a better position to design a meaningful solution for them.
- Why are Solar Start Up innovations important?
We believe that innovations in the solar industry will be instrumental to decarbonize Europe, and organizations such as Solar Power Europe are essential to raise awareness among market players and decision makers. We are therefore thrilled and honored to be among the finalists of this award.