Combining electricity generation with sustainable cultivation

Actium, an energy developer in Spain, began the development of photovoltaic plants throughout the country. In Andalucia, the company was interested in finding ways to leverage the extensive land area occupied by commercial greenhouses as an alternative energy platform for solar power.

Challenge
The challenge was to identify ways in which agricultural facilities could use solar energy to provide commercial power while also sustaining the requirements of expansive commercial greenhouse facilities.

Solution
Louis Berger was contracted to conduct a feasibility study, prepare detailed designs and provide construction supervision for El Coronil IV and El Coronil V, the first two agro-energy greenhouses built in Andalucia and the only such facilities in Europe.

The Coronil solar greenhouses combine the functionality of an agricultural facility with that of a photovoltaic (PV) installation on its roof. The greenhouse interior contains all the elements required for indoor cultivation while a completely independent PV installation positioned on the roof converts light to electricity.

At El Coronil IV, 4,464 240-watt PV modules were installed on a 16,500 square-meter roof surface. With a nominal capacity of 1 MW and a peak capacity of 1.2 MW, the PV installation can yield an estimated output of 1,787,134 kWh annually--enough to meet the annual energy demands of more than 450 homes and save more than 700 tons of CO2 emission every year.

At El Coronil V, 2,880 280-watt PV modules were installed on an 11,550 square-meter roof surface. With a nominal capacity 0.7 MW, the PV installation can yield an estimated output of 1,250,994 kWh per year--enough to meet the annual energy demands of more than 315 homes and save more than 490 tons of CO2 emission every year.