To feed our growing global population, sustainable, efficient, and optimized agriculture is required. In this context, high tech glass greenhouses will be key for the future of agriculture. Their global surface is expected to grow almost 20-fold by 2050. However, these greenhouses require energy for heating (gas and electricity), which has a financial, as well as an environmental cost. A standard 5ha greenhouse spends every year an average of 1.5 MCHF for energy while emitting the same amount of CO2 as almost 2'000 people. In the last years, energy costs have been soaring, especially gas. It resulted in some greenhouses production being stopped while the margins of the rest were drastically reduced. Moreover, the taxes on CO2 emissions are increasing and some distributors are requiring producers to reduce their carbon footprint.
To address the triple to the environment, the producers and ultimately the consumer, Voltiris has developed greenhouse-compatible photovoltaic modules. Their solution enables greenhouse owners to produce renewable energy to power their greenhouses while growing crops efficiently. Hence, greenhouse owners can improve their energetic autonomy while reducing their costs and improving their sustainability. Voltiris technology lets through the light components needed by the plants (mostly red and blue), while the rest (green and near infrared) is reflected and focused onto a photovoltaic module. Therefore, renewable electricity is produced without impacting the agricultural yield, as 100% of the light needed by crops is transmitted. Voltiris innovations on both the module and a self-developed sun-tracking system result in a very competitive cost of energy, ensuring a compelling ROI for users.
The three-people-team behind Voltiris relies on a broad range of advisors and experts bringing specific skills in agriculture, energy, and mechanical development. In addition, Voltiris benefits from the support of Innosuisse, HES-SO and the Agroscope for a total amount of CHF 180'000 to conduct an agronomical study with a live pilot. Voltiris also submitted two patents on high photovoltaic yield and solar tracking to ensure low energy cost.
Looking ahead, Voltiris plans on using the Tech Seed loan from the FIT to prepare its industrialization and conduct larger-scale pilot projects. In addition, the FIT loan will finance, together with other fundings, the technical development, necessary to unlock customer access. Once the technical validity is established, Voltiris will seek to start the commercialization phase with selected partners in Switzerland and the Netherlands before pushing its efforts to expand globally.