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French solar panel system that doubles as crop shade bought by Total

The oil and gas giant bought the company set up by a father and daughter team for an undisclosed amount

With the backing of TotalEnergies, the system can now be installed at around 140 sites Pic: Chatchawal Phumkaew / Shutterstock

A firm developing solar panels that double as crop shade has been bought out by oil and gas giant TotalEnergies in a deal that will also establish an ‘agri-energy’ research centre.

System can now be installed at 140 sites

Ombrea was set up seven years ago by French father-and-daughter team Christian Pahin, a farmer, and Julie Davico-Pahin, a journalist.

Their system protects crops from the weather while producing green energy.

With the backing of TotalEnergies, they can now install it at around 140 sites in France, and elsewhere in Europe. 

All 40 staff will be kept on and they will be joined by 10 more from TotalEnergies to help set up the research centre.

The price of the deal, which saw TotalEnergies buy all shares in the firm, was not disclosed.

Read more: Farmers boost France’s gas independence with small methane plant

Read more: Trial to grow oilseed for green aviation fuel on French farm

Government has passed law on electricity production on farms

It costs between €200,000 and €250,000 a hectare to install an Ombrea system, but the sale of electricity over its 20-year lifespan covers the cost, and will even turn a profit in some cases. 

Crop yields are almost always higher.

The government passed a law earlier this year setting out the legal framework for what it calls agrivoltaïsme – production of electricity on farms.

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