Solar panels help winemaker fight climate change

French winemaker Pierre Escudie feared extreme weather caused by climate change would destroy this year's grape harvest.

But he decided to put his trust in a roof of solar panelsto insulate his crops - and it paid off.

The panels keep the grapes warm during periods of extreme cold, and shield them from the sun's harsh rays during heatwaves.

They also rotate to allow more light to hit the vines on overcast days.

Rising temperatures, heatwaves, droughts and cold snaps have wrought havoc on his neighbors' grapes, where his are plump and fresh.

Warmer climes are also causing grapes to ripen earlier which results in more sugar in the grape.

That can even change the flavor of French wines.

"We'll need solutions if we want to keep our local grape varieties, we'll need to take measures because we're moving from a Mediterranean climate to a semi-arid climate, it's obvious. I don't know how long that cycle will last but it's here now. "

At his vineyard near Perpignan, Escudie cultivates Marselan, Grenache Gris and Chardonnay grapes.

He believes the solar panel tech he is currently using might be the future.

"Four years on, results are very positive because we've reached what we wanted, we've seen a temperature drop of 0.9 degree Farenheit on the Chardonnay variety, half a degree under the panels compared to the test field."

Agrivoltaics is a fast growing technology, where solar panels are placed over fields and vineyards to get double use out of the land.

Power is produced during periods of heavy sunshine, while allowing crops to grow simultaneously.

Escudie is in one of these mutually beneficial arrangements.

The solar panels produce enough power to generate energy for around 650 homes in the area, according to the company that makes them, Sun'Agri.

Escudie, in turn, benefits from the crop protection the panels provide.

The technology can process weather data to determine when to shade the crops and when to give the crops sunlight.

Several companies in Europe are developing similar solar tech to cover a variety of crops, from wheat fields to fruit orchards.

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