Grapes and Solar

I note a protest in Mudgee N S W about a large solar farm. One solution maybe to incorporate solar panels as a canopy to shield the grapes from the very hot direct sun particularly in the Barossa. They would need to have a means to tilt them about 50% to allow the sun to do its job at other times. I believe there are solar farms in the states that have pivotal panels. Then of course a means to store the energy they have collected. Any thoughts?
 
I note a protest in Mudgee N S W about a large solar farm. One solution maybe to incorporate solar panels as a canopy to shield the grapes from the very hot direct sun particularly in the Barossa. They would need to have a means to tilt them about 50% to allow the sun to do its job at other times. I believe there are solar farms in the states that have pivotal panels. Then of course a means to store the energy they have collected. Any thoughts?
It might be a bit hard to get a harvester to straddle rows during harvest Max. And tricky for tractors to cruise up and down doing leaf plucking. And barrel pruning is becoming big, can't see how that would work with any structure above the vines.
 
I suspect something along these lines could be made to work with alternative designs of panel in the future. Maybe something more like a solar-net that could be strung above vines hanging from poles? Or perhaps an umbrella-like structures?
 

Tom Cannavan

Administrator
Alex, I'd started typing a reply and got sidetracked, but my thinking was similar:

What about extending each post up to 15 feet, with a row of panels running along the length of row ,15 feet above? The machines would have free movement between the rows, but could a machine be invented that could still straddle the row, but somehow navigate the posts sticking up?? Not sure the yield from the panels would be worth it of course.

In Argentina, one viticulturist I visited was experimenting with different colours and materials of netting. he nets anyway to protect the fruit, but he thought there could be means of acheiving solar gain or reduction with net colour, material and mesh size. Some future tech might even give them solar panel tech.

The idea of having two crops in one field was common in small vineyards in Portugal and other subsistence farming communities: the grapes grown on high pergolas, with a second crop, maybe maize or wheat, planted beneath. So there is something to double-decker thinking. Obviously you'd lose the benefit of the shade by reversing this for the solar panel idea - pergola trained vines above the solar panels - but good quality could be acheived and some genius could invent means of being to tend the vines and allow the panels to perform.
 
On one of my many visits to the Barossa a few years ago it is very obvious that unless a canopy of some structure is used to shade the grapes in the heat of summer we will lose some vinyards. Solar Panels and batteries for storage would be a plus plus
 
Australia doesnt lack space for solar panels, and I dont think they would function that well given how my spray cart looks like at the end of a season. Vineyards are congested places to work without adding another layer of complexity.

Move out of the Barossa is a better bet, too much kaiserfliesch there anyway..
 
Australia doesnt lack space for solar panels, and I dont think they would function that well given how my spray cart looks like at the end of a season. Vineyards are congested places to work without adding another layer of complexity.

Move out of the Barossa is a better bet, too much kaiserfliesch there anyway..
Indeed - it would only really makes sense if one were planning on a canopy anyway. Whether in the future we'll have solar-fabrics, I don't know, but suspect this is unlikely to be worthwhile anytime soon!
 
Overall climate change will change our way of life as we know it. An exponential rise in warming will happen and mankind seems to reassure itself with well look what we have achieved when a newspaper with it's own self interest at heart reports some insignificant change for the better. I am also amused when a politician promises to help the N H S by printing more money instead of perhaps thinking of a significant improvement in our own general health which would have a far greater impact on health services than money ever could. Time will tell I guess but it will happen more quickly than most of you think. Now which wine will I consume this evening?
 
Overall climate change will change our way of life as we know it. An exponential rise in warming will happen and mankind seems to reassure itself with well look what we have achieved when a newspaper with it's own self interest at heart reports some insignificant change for the better. I am also amused when a politician promises to help the N H S by printing more money instead of perhaps thinking of a significant improvement in our own general health which would have a far greater impact on health services than money ever could. Time will tell I guess but it will happen more quickly than most of you think. Now which wine will I consume this evening?
Don't suppose you've any dodgy old riesling handy?
 
A domaine near me has installed them. I agree about the impracticalities of tractor work and question the need but here is the story, in French.
 
Yes Jonathan, I am surprised places like the Barossa did not begin this as unless you are a climate change denier it may well be their salvation. A small battery farm shared by surrounding estates would be the next step as there are lots of Government subsidies around at the moment.
 
I tasted the wines from the Roussillon estate that has been growing vines under solar panels today. My impression of all of them was they they tasted underripe. The Chardonnay, which isn't really a suitable grape for this climate, was floral and fresh with hints of green apple. The Grenache girs/blanc was astringent and very fresh - not really what we look for in those varieties. The rosé was astonishing in that it really smelled strongly of watermelon. The Cinsault was like a lot of Languedoc Cinsault. Perfumed on the nose but with red apple fruit and a fresh palate with a bit too much crunchy acidity. The Marsellan had aromas of autumn leaves, which I associate with the machine-harvested, overripe fruit. The palate was rich and concentrated but with astringent green tannins. Based on those wines, I don't think I'll be turning to solar panels to improve my viticulture. Another point I would make is that the domaine has increased the prices of its wines quite a bit, not supported by any increase in quality. Which suggests that either the panels are not that financially attractive or that the main advantage is telling the story and convincing people to pay 4 or 5 euros more per bottle because of the USP.
 
Yes Jonathan, I am surprised places like the Barossa did not begin this as unless you are a climate change denier it may well be their salvation.
What do you think about Sean's point, which was that land is not at a premium there. If this is the case, one may as well just buy/rent another field and use it just for solar generation?
A small battery farm shared by surrounding estates would be the next step as there are lots of Government subsidies around at the moment.
...or maybe that's what you mean? Not sure what a battery farm is!
 
The main point i tried to make Alex is to protect the grapes in extremely hot weather with a canopy. A canopy of solar panels seems to be logical if they can be movable enough to allow the grapes be accessed
By battery farm I mean perhaps a few wineries having access to power they and others create when needed by them
Perhaps a one acre field somewhere in the middle. To Jonathan's point they need to be flexible enough for owner to allow the sun to have good access to the vines
 
The main point i tried to make Alex is to protect the grapes in extremely hot weather with a canopy. A canopy of solar panels seems to be logical if they can be movable enough to allow the grapes be accessed
By battery farm I mean perhaps a few wineries having access to power they and others create when needed by them
Perhaps a one acre field somewhere in the middle. To Jonathan's point they need to be flexible enough for owner to allow the sun to have good access to the vines
The project in the Roussillon was lauded as having the latest AI to move the panels with the temp and sun. I think the problem is that vines react badly to shade. They can cope with cloudy days but not shade. If you ever see a vineyard where trees shade the vines for part of the day, those vines have very poor vigour.
 
The project in the Roussillon was lauded as having the latest AI to move the panels with the temp and sun. I think the problem is that vines react badly to shade. They can cope with cloudy days but not shade. If you ever see a vineyard where trees shade the vines for part of the day, those vines have very poor vigour.
I always put that down to root competition not shade as such. Agreed that shade isnt ideal though. Extreme head, not sunlight, is the stress on the plant. If you can keep the water up to a vine you can deal with very (42+) hot weather quite well, as long as you have maintained an adequate canopy.
 
I always put that down to root competition not shade as such. Agreed that shade isnt ideal though. Extreme head, not sunlight, is the stress on the plant. If you can keep the water up to a vine you can deal with very (42+) hot weather quite well, as long as you have maintained an adequate canopy.
That's true about competition but I'm still not convinced about the argument for shade. Here it was 40 degrees in the shade this summer. My vines didn't really suffer from that. Perhaps early in the summer, shade from the panels could help protect leaves and young grapes from burning but the idea that by providing shade you can counteract global warning seems far-fetched. Using solar to power turbines to provide air-flow might be more sensible.
 
Possibly Alex as wheat prices are historically high in the world at the moment. Of course if one looked at energy prices in the world Australia is in an enviable position to exploit their geographical position in the world and become an exporter of green energy whilst growing export food. Ironically flooding is the problem on the eastern side of Australia. One of my sisters has a house in Rochester Victoria which has flooded and 8 inches of water has changed their lives. At least we have a greener government in place at the moment .
 
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