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EF Solare Italia

Photovoltaic greenhouses improve citrus fruit quality while using less water

In 2011, EF Solare Italia introduced photovoltaic greenhouses for citrus fruit groves in the Thyrrenian and Ionian coast of the Cosenza province, then in Umbria and Sardinia. EF Solare Italian greenhouses (32 MWp) cover 40 hectares in total are home to 18,000 trees. 

The system examined in this article is eight years old and is located along Riviera dei Cedri in the Scalea (CS) municipality. The latest analyses conducted by CRSFA "Basile Caramia" on a sample collected in January reported extraordinary results: 76.5 mm fruit diameter, 250 g weight, 39% juice and 60.5 g/l total acidity (citric acid). 

Left: a typical fruit grown in EF Solare Italian greenhouses. Right: EF Solare Italia lemon grove during harvesting.

These results are well above the qualitative standards required by the production regulations of the best PGI lemons in Italy such as those from Rocca Imperiale and Sorrento.

The quality characteristics necessary for PGI lemons from Sorrento are as follows: above 85 g weight, 30% or more juice, 35 g/l or more total acidity. Those for PGI lemons from Rocca Imperiale are: 53 mm or more diameter, 100 g or more weight, 30% or more juice, 45 g/l or more total acidity.

Chart reporting the characteristics of EF Solare Italia lemons compared with those required by production regulations for PGI lemons from Sorrento and Rocca Imperiale. Click here to enlarge.

In addition to the high product quality, one of the aspects on which EF Solare Italia focuses is the rationalization of water resources in line with environmental sustainability objectives. Crops use in fact a reduced amount of water.

The histogram (see below) reports the monthly quantity of water used for irrigation on 7.8 ha in 2019. The water used is noticeably below that used in open fields: 1,200 m^3/ha against 6,000 m^3/ha.

Histogram from the Netagim control system reporting the monthly water consumption in 2019 for 7.8 ha. Click here to enlarge.

This result was obtained thanks to the unique conditions (partial shading and diffused light) in greenhouses and to sub-irrigation systems, which reduce evapotranspiration favoring water rationalization. 

EF Solare Italia continues to develop agrosolar fields so as to favor the production of electricity employing and respecting natural resources.

Left: new lime grove in the EF Solar Italian photovoltain greenhouses in Milis (OR). Right: first limes from the new EF Solare Italia orchard in Milis (OR).

EF Solare Italia is the leading photovoltaic operator in Italy with over 300 systems in 17 regions and an installed capacity of over 850 MW. In Calabria there are 14 systems with almost 40 MW. It contributes to pursuing European and domestic decarbonization, safe energy procurement and industrial competitiveness development objectives through the introduction of technological innovations. 

Antonio Lancellotta - partner/consultant
EF Solare Italia
Cell.: +39 340 6208559
Email: [email protected]