The Role of Floating Solar Systems in the Energy-Land Use Nexus:
A Case Study on the Potential for South African Wineries
FC Prinsloo*, A Lombard
Department of Geography, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, UNISA, South Africa
In the year 2008, the European Union for example
introduced a plan to pay farmers a subsidy to uproot
their grapes (European Commission, 2008). The main
thrust was withdraw around 175,000 hectares of
vineyards from wine production in order to reduce
oversupply, reduce production of uncompetitive
wines, and compensate producers by offering
alternatives. At the same time, the EU was offering
attractive solar energy subsidies, resulting in wine
farmers uprooting vineyards in exchange for solar
power plant installations (Forum, 2009).
•European Commission (2008). Reform of the EU wine market. European Commission, Agriculture and Rural Development: Adopted by the Council of Ministers in April 2008, EC Regulation 479/2008 and 555/2008, pp. 12.
•IRENA (2015). Renewable energy in the water, energy and food nexus. International Renewable Energy Agency, , no. January, pp. 1125.
•Pentland, W. (2011). Napa Winery Pioneers Solar Floatovoltaics. Forbes Business, no. August, pp. 13.
•Trapani, K. and Santafe, M. (2014). A review of floating photovoltaic installations: 2007-2013. Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Wiley Publications, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 524532. ISSN 10627995.
•Ringler, C., Bhaduri, A. and Lawford, R. (2013 December). The nexus across water, energy, land and food (WELF): potential for improved resource use efficiency? Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, vol. 5, no. 6, pp. 1877-3435.
•Sahu, Y., Shahabuddin, M. and Agrawal, P. (2015). Floating solar photovoltaic system an emerging technology. National Seminar on Prospects and challenges of electrical Power Industry in India, pp. 219227.
•Singh, G. (2013). Solar power generation by PV (photovoltaic) technology: A review. Review Article Energy, vol. 53, pp. 113.
•Smyth, M., Russell, J. and Milanowski, T. (2011). Solar Energy in the Winemaking Industry. London: Springer-Verlag.
•SolarGIS (2012). SolarGIS Database version 1.8 satellite-derived solar radiation and meteorological data. GeoModel Solar, pp. 112.
•Sunengy. (2015). Tracking solar Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) technology. Available from http://sunengy.com/about/.
•World Economic Forum (2009). Green Investing: Reducing the Cost of Financing. World Economic Forum, , no. January, pp. 156.
The arable-land-conserving answer is to physically
locate the solar array in winery’s irrigation pond. A
tracking concentrated solar system as shown in Fig 3,
has the added advantage that waste heat can be
recovered from the solar system in order to make hot
water that can be used in the winery.
Water, energy, land, food nexus
The water, energy, land and food (WELF) nexus
concept is a valuable tool to study viticulture and
oenology sustainability scenarios in terms of food
production, land-, energy- and water-resource
interactions and optimization (Ringler, 2013). It is
proposed in this study that such nexus parameters
further be used in the geographical evaluation of
floating solar energy and space optimization
opportunities in environmental management plans for
local wine farms in the Western Cape wine region. This
concept further promotes environmental and
economical sustainability, by effectively using the
limited space on the wine farm and ensuring the
productivity of land space which vineyards need.
Floating solar renewable energy technology provide
access to a cost-effective, secure and environmentally
sustainable supply of energy. Their rapid growth can
have substantial spill-over effects in the water and
food sectors. Yet detailed knowledge on the role
renewable energy can play in the nexus remains
limited and widely dispersed. Renewable Energy in the
Water, Energy and Food Nexus aims to bridge this gap,
providing the broad analysis that has been lacking on
the interactions of renewable energy within those key
sectors. Global and country-specific cases to highlight
how renewable energy can address the trade-off's,
helping to address the world's pressing water, energy
and food challenges (IRENA, 2015).
Floating solar PV panels provide electrical power
without harming or causing damage to the nature by
directly transforming the suns energy into electricity
(Singh, 2013). These adaptation methods not only
reduce the carbon footprint, increase water
preservation, help with algal growth control, and thus
ensure more sustainable development of the wineries.
Solar renewable energy
As renewable energies such as solar energy are
gaining popularity in the wine making industry (Smyth,
2011). Emerging technology concepts such as solar
farms have taken on a new meaning after the advent
of the floating solar photovoltaic system (Sahu, 2015).
A floating solar farm integrates existing land based
type photovoltaic technology with the newly
developed pontoon floating photovoltaic technology.
Fig. 2. Solar atlas for South Africa (SolarGIS, 2015)
Fig. 3. Concentrated Solar floating solar system
Fig. 1. Floating solar at Far Niente, USA Napa Valley
(Trapani and Santafe, 2014)
Pioneering work of the Far Niente winery in the USA
Napa Valley who installed the world's first so-called
Floatovoltaic system. This over-water grid-connected
pontoon floating solar renewable energy installation
was installed over the irrigation dam of the farm,
where it is surrounded by the vineyards. It saved the
owners considerable losses, for there was no need to
uproot valuable historic vineyards to create land scape
for the installation of a solar power system, as was
done with the vineyards in many other countries
before (Pentland, 2011). In order for the solar system
to provide sufficient power to the winery, the size of
the installation requires significant land. If located in
the vineyard, a large amount of the grape growing
land would be lost to the photovoltaic array.
Prinsloo, F.C. and Lombard, A. (2015). The Role of Floating Solar Energy Systems in the Energy-Land Use Nexus: A Case Study on the Potential for
South African Wineries. 2nd Annual International Conference of the Journal of Green Economy and Development (JGED), Kloof, South Africa.