TotalEnergies buys French agrivoltaics startup Ombrea

Agrivoltaics holds mutual benefits for both farmers and energy developers. Image: Enel Green Power.

French oil giant TotalEnergies has acquired Ombrea, an agrivoltaics developer, for an undisclosed sum.

TotalEnergies said that it would incorporate over 40 of Ombrea’s staff into the new agrivoltaics division, including founders Christian Davico and Julie Davico-Pahin, at Ombrea’s existing Aix-en-Provence site. It also said that the acquisition would enable it to “accelerate the development of its portfolio of 1.5 GW of agrivoltaics projects”.

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Since 2016, Ombrea has built ten agriPV sites, primarily featuring crop production. Studies have shown that the protection and shade from solar panels can improve the growth and yield of some plants, as well as widen the scope of potentially farmable areas that may otherwise have been too exposed to heat or wind. Plants in turn can cool panels from beneath, improving their efficiency.

The solar industry is paying increasing attention to agrivoltaics and beginning to take advantage of the breadth of deployment options that the practice offers. PV Tech Premium has recently published features on the crossroads between both community solar and rooftop solar and agrivoltaics.

Europe is one of the primary regions where agrivoltaics technology has gained traction, and a July report from the Progress in Photovoltaics journal found that the continent has the potential to deploy 51TW worth of agrivoltaics if it were to harness every opportunity to do so. Despite this, the Dutch government effectively moved to ban agriPV deployments in July.

France itself – the home nation of both TotalEnergies and Ombrea – has been looking to agrivoltaics as a way around its land availability bottleneck that has helped back its PV deployments in recent years. More on this topic can be found here. This week the most recent energy roadmap tender saw French developer Neoen secure two 30MW agriPV projects in France.

“This move will allow us to combine our expertise and know-how to accelerate the deployment of solutions that enable the agricultural sector to increase its income by producing energy, while sustaining its activities and reducing its carbon footprint,” said Vincent Stoquart, senior vice president, renewables at TotalEnergies.

Ombrea founders Christian Davico and Julie Davico-Pahin added: “We are delighted to be joining TotalEnergies, where Ombrea will help to scale up the company’s ambitious vision for the regions. We look forward to seeing the accelerated deployment of our smart solutions to promote high-performance, forward-looking agriculture.”

In 2021, Ombrea received technical and financial support from Spanish energy giant Iberdrola, as one of four projects selected by the company.

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