Voltiris – the first solar modules for greenhouse growers
Greenhouse growers' operations have been challenged by the recent energy crisis and the need to reduce their CO2 emissions. Existing solar solutions reduce crop yields because of the shade that they create.
Voltiris offers solar modules compatible with greenhouse operations, converting light unused by the photosynthesis process into renewable energy. This dual land use transforms greenhouses into photovoltaic plants, enabling energy independence, profitability, and sustainability.
Who are the people behind the project and what is your background?
Voltiris is driven by three co-founders:
CEO - Nicolas Weber: MSc in Mgmt and Strategy and background in strategy consulting and venture building.
CTO - Jonas Roch: PhD in spectroscopy and experience in R&D within power grids.
CPO - Dominik Blaser: MSc in Mechanical Engineering and experience in the fields of energy and sustainability.
Our team comprises a total of 10 dedicated individuals, contributing crucial expertise in financing, production and operations to make our vision a reality.
How did your idea come into being?
Jonas and Nicolas became friends about 20 years ago during high school while doing physics experiments. Over time, they both shared the idea of collaborating on an impactful project when the timing would be right.
Jonas, with his background in spectroscopy, began questioning how plants use light, especially because of their green color. This curiosity led him to explore the relationship between agriculture and energy production.
He reached out to Nicolas to explore how this idea could contribute to the agricultural energy transition and be economically viable. Together, with input from many growers and the addition of Dominik, they developed an innovative solution to address growers' challenges.
Dominik, with his hands-on expertise, played a crucial role in designing and building a concrete prototype for testing with growers and research centers.
What is your idea to impactfully design a climate positive FOODprint for Switzerland?
In Switzerland, greenhouses play a vital role in producing beloved fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and salads. However, they contribute to about 500,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually. To foster a climate-positive FOODprint, Voltiris introduces innovative AgriPV solutions that bring unique solutions in both agriculture and energy.
Our approach involves integrating photovoltaic (PV) technology into greenhouses, utilizing their expansive surface area. This innovation promotes sustainable farming practices, reducing greenhouse emissions by up to 70% and enhancing local food security.
Our goal is to establish a network of climate-resilient greenhouses powered by renewable energy throughout Switzerland. Demonstrating the practicality and scalability of our solution will inspire growers in other regions to embrace it. We envision a future where local food systems are decarbonized, resilient, and highly productive.
How do you define the positive impact of your solution on the problem described above?
- Installing Voltiris in a full greenhouse can lead to a remarkable reduction of carbon emissions, potentially reaching up to 70%, which equates to approximately 2,100 tons of CO2e annually for a standard Swiss greenhouse.
- Voltiris not only offers a more cost-effective energy source but also empowers growers to reduce their energy expenses by approximately 40%, thus enhancing their overall profitability.
- With control over a decentralized energy source, growers can reduce their dependence on market fluctuations and volatility, thereby bolstering food security. It's estimated that around 30% of growers ceased operations over the past winter, resulting in increased imports.
- Furthermore, our solution offers additional benefits to growers, such as reduced heat and decreased reliance on pesticides for specific crops, further boosting their sustainability and viability.