The French agriculture newspaper and website recently wrote about the inauguration of the first pilot site in Saint-Georges-du-Rosay.
Below is an English translation of the newspaper article.
"Frédéric Vaucelle's farm in Saint-Georges-du-Rosay is one of the four pilot sites of the European ICARE4Farms project aimed at studying solar energy production in North-West Europe.
Little used by farmers in northwestern Europe for their hot water needs, solar thermal energy has economic and environmental benefits. To promote it, a European project was launched in January 2020, named ICARE4Farms, bringing together 8 partners from 5 countries, including Laval Mayenne Technopole, Chambre d’agriculture des Pays-de-la-Loire and the Mayenne start-up, Fengtech.
"This involves testing the solar thermal technology, already known, according to different uses, in order to determine its adaptability", explains Gilles Beaujean, energy advisor at the Chambre d’agriculture des Pays-de-la-Loire. To collect scientific data at different latitudes and in different agricultural productions, several sites have been selected in North West Europe: a greenhouse in the United Kingdom, an anaerobic digestion unit in the Netherlands and a pig farm in Belgium. The fourth pilot farm of this project is located in Sarthe, at a veal producer.
Heating the water in the butcher's calves workshop, established in 2011, following the retirement of his father, Frédéric Vaucelle, he now runs his farm alone in Saint-Georges-du-Rosay. For the past four years he has been producing veal calves for integrator Van Drie. In his new building with 400 places, the breeder has a reserve of 2400 L of water. "This is the equivalent of the volume of water required every day to constitute the meals of the calves, on average high, he indicates, but this water must be heated to 80 °C ”. In search of "a simple solution" to reduce his propane bill, Frédéric Vaucelle became interested in solar energy to heat the water for his farm. But the farmer, having already invested 540,000 € in his building, could not finance the installation of a power plant. The ICARE4Farms project was therefore timely for the Sarthois who received 60% aid at a cost of around € 70,000.
Cover 70% of annual needs. In operation since June in Saint-Georges-du-Rosay, the solar thermal power plant brings together 16 water heaters, each with a power of 2.5 kWh and a storage capacity of 300 L, arranged in two rows. "The first is a cold row," specifies Gilles Beaujean, in charge of coordinating the installation of the plant and its monitoring, in the second circulates hot water which will be drained into the workshop's water reserve. ". Thanks to the tubes and the V-shaped slab on which they are fixed, the water heaters capture three types of radiation: direct, diffuse and reflected. In addition, 160 m of pipes buried to the reserve will help to retain heat in the ground. This summer, the boiler for the breeding barely started up. "In winter, the plant will not cover 100% of the needs", comments Frédéric Vaucelle. The technology supplier Fengtech estimates that the farmer should "consume 5T less propane per year, emit 15T less CO2 and reduce his bill by 70%" with his installation.
For three years, the four pilot sites are case studies for the project partners. The second phase will consist of "modeling the system" before being able to deploy it. Out of a total cost of € 3.37 million, the project is funded to the tune of € 2 million. The aim is to provide technical support in North West Europe for 17 additional sites."