Actors in the agro-industry know solar technological solutions to improve the sustainability of the sector

• The conference was organized by the Fraunhofer Chile Center for Solar Energy Technologies and DMC Consultants, with the participation and support of the Minister of Agriculture, Antonio Walker, who stressed that "agriculture must be sustainable" and announced a working group to advance in public-private collaboration on this issue.

 Solar technological solutions that protect crops from radiation and generate energy for agricultural processes, solar desalination systems, floating photovoltaic panels that improve water efficiency, electromobility in agriculture and many other innovations that help to the sustainability of agricultural production, were presented to important representatives of the Chilean Agribusiness at the Workshop "Solar Energy for Agriculture", an event that was led by the Minister of Agriculture, Antonio Walker, and organized by the Fraunhofer Chile Center for Solar Energy Technologies and DMC Consultants.


In this event, Minister Antonio Walker highlighted that "this is the future of Chilean agriculture, we have to incorporate technology, we have to be innovative. We have seen solar panels that also prevent water evaporation. We have to go towards renewable energies, which are also cheaper. Chile has tremendous comparative advantages from the central to the north in solar energy, there is a whole world to discover. We saw urban farms with solar energy, which unite the agricultural world with the urban world. I was very impressed by the Foundation (Fraunhofer Chile), the innovation in technology they have, and we have to do a working group now with the Ministry of Agriculture, but agriculture has to be incorporated urgently into this world of renewable energy, because I think that in addition to lowering production costs makes us have a more sustainable agriculture.


Pilar Parada, General Manager of Fraunhofer Chile, said that "without a doubt the potential that Chile has in the face of the great solar irradiation that we have, is an immense advantage, and as we commented with the Minister, it has been little used because there is a lack of knowledge perhaps, and that is a task that we have as Fraunhofer Chile, to disseminate this knowledge that is applied science and that we can take to the productive sector".


Public-private support for R&D


Thus, the FCR CSET team, through its Executive Director, Dr. Frank Dinter, the New Business Manager, Marco Vaccarezza; and the Leaders of the Solar Thermal Area, María Teresa Cerda and of Photovoltaic Systems, Aloïs Salmon, presented the main lines of business and research of the Solar Energy Center and the developments it is carrying out with the national industry. Those attending the workshop took the opportunity to talk to the Minister and the center's researchers, expressing their concerns and problems regarding productivity and costs that agricultural production must face in the current scenario.


That is why they valued this possibility of implementing new, more sustainable technologies, with the support of the R&D Law for tax incentives and some state funding instruments for innovation, which were addressed by the Executive of the Innovation Management of CORFO, Jorge Riveros and by the Executive of Business Development of the FCR CSET, Fernanda Ortúzar; and from the banking sector, explained in the presentation made by the Green Finance Manager of Banco Estado, Jorge Gonzalez, whose institution has an agreement with Fraunhofer Chile for technical support in the evaluation of investment projects in renewable energies.


Dialogue and the search for solutions


Oscar Boronig, owner of Agricolas El Anhelo and El Encuentro, thanked the organizers for this opportunity to learn about these technologies as well as the existing support for their implementation. "I had been restless for quite some time trying to apply renewable energies in the field I have, first because I am in an area of quite radiation, where I am occupying too much electrical energy that costs me an outrage. I have roofs, I have spaces that I could apply in creating renewable energies, but I think that today's talk opened up a totally unexpected field for me because, for example, I produce pistachios, and to produce the main thing is to dry them opportunely, and right now for that I have liquid gas installations whose cost plus electricity, has me almost bankrupt. My hope is precisely to apply renewable energies that reduce costs and on the other hand make me more environmentally friendly," said the businessman.


The closing of the day was in charge of the Representative of DMC Consultants, Esteban Tomic, who made a call to take advantage of the opportunities offered by technological advances for the sustainability of the sector, also appreciating the positive response and interest in the call achieved as well as the dialogue achieved among the participating actors. "It was really remarkable, the workshop was a moment to tell each other our realities and that serves of course to seek joint solutions," he concluded.