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Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2015-09-30

At present Europe represents 20% of the global plastic GH area, which means more than 200,000 hectares (Has), most of them in the Mediterranean basin where Spain and Italy stand out over other countries and Morocco and Turkey are countries with a higher expansion. Greenhouses all over Europe are facing a challenge on the reduction of their energy requirements costs which represents the third highest cost, representing 10-30% of total operational costs. Countries with high greenhouse coverage, both for food or ornamental vegetables are the envisioned target market.
SUN4GREEN is born from the need of greenhouse farmers to reduce their energy costs while they also maintain or increase their crops productivity. SUN4GREEN aims to deliver a solution to those farmers thanks to a new smart design which allows a dual profitable photovoltaic and crop harvesting. This is achieved through a revolutionary solution which combines in a greenhouse (GH) structure a patented assembly system of photovoltaic (PV) panels with optical collectors (boosters), which enables seasonal control of solar energy for crop development and PV power generation by preventing in summer excess light from reaching crops and turning it into electricity, while in winter light is able to reach crops without any problem.
Two partners were involved within Phase 1 works, SUNBOOST Ltd, which has a deep knowledge on add-on booster development for conventional ground and rooftop photo-voltaic systems and RUFEPA TECNOAGRO S.L. a 25-years-experience company in the horticultural sector which provides the partnership with expert engineering and hands-on capabilities that will enable integrating the developed boosters’ technology with existing GH technologies to put it at the service of customers.
Both partners have worked together in order to optimize costs and immediately incorporate SUN4GREEN system into RUFEPA’s portfolio as a new and leading product line. A feasibility study has been conducted to get a further analysis of the main barriers to overcome during the SUN4GREEN project (commercial, technical and financial) in order to get successful results that will allow scaling up and introducing the solution in the international market.
Thanks to the feasibility we have updated the commercial and technical activities and related costs to get SUN4GREEN solution for industrial manufacture. As part of the work we have obtained a technical plan, which sets the basic configuration of SUN4GREEN solution and the steps to reach it successfully.
From a commercial point of view, the current distribution channels of RUFEPA will open a commercial path for SUN4GREEN application within the European Region countries and increase its market share. RUFEPA has a branch in Mexico which will be a leverage when it is time to extend operations from Europe to Latin America. For this reason RUFEPA will be the next coordinator. In addition, the feasibility study has come up with a new partner for the consortium: A glass producer which will help in the technical optimization of glass boosters. The three partners have outlined the commercial agreements that will regulate their partnership.
Finally, from a financial point of view, we have set the initial investment to have the product in the market and establish a realistic business plan which allows the launching of the solution.
SUN4GREEN performance is designed to be season dependent and is adapted to greenhouse agriculture characteristics. The booster PV system allows the use of light in a smart way by not shading crops when it is not needed and thus not compromising their growth. As a result, growers get a real dual sun and crop harvesting targeted to obtain the benefits from both means, which is not possible with simple, direct PV technology implementation. In addition, in Mediterranean climate and in similar climates, we achieve up to 75% CO2 savings by reducing dependence on fossil fuels
With a provisional budget of M€2, SUN4GREEN will boost the growth of both companies as it will open a new leading product line able to target current European markets and new markets, such as semiarid or arid regions targets. It is expected that in the most conservative scenario 200 hectares of Greenhouses will be constructed under SUN4GREEN specifications with a cumulative net benefit over M€42 for the consortium in 5 years time from the first commercialization.