Solar ginseng

Solar greenhouses for ginseng – and marijuana?

Renewables blog Cleantechnica reports on the clever French:

Hanwha Solar is providing 7.7 megawatts of an 8.7-megawatt installation on a building owned by Solvéo Energie in Rion-des-Landes, France. This nine-hectare rooftop solar project of 36,900 panels fosters just the environment needed for the four-year growing period ginseng roots need before harvesting.

Photo from Solvéo

Solar greenhouses exploit advances in translucent PV modules. Frank Gehry (naturally) has designed a building for Novartis in his signature beanbag style covered entirely in the things.

This is fun, but also important. Solar energy is practically a free lunch except for one thing: land use. There’s always the Sahara but it’s the wrong side of the Atlantic for you. Dual-use photovoltaics are going to be essential: curtain walls, car parks, greenhouses.

Ginseng isn’t the only crop that likes a bit of shade. Another is RBC’s perennial favourite, marijuana.

I expect “medical” pot entrepreneurs in California are already looking at this opportunity.

Here’s a tip for them. To get their next legalisation proposition over the hump, why not add a green spin, and link it to demands for a favourable feed-in-tariff or tax breaks for their solar greenhouses?

RBC readers clearly enjoy competitions. So please supply a bumper-sticker slogan for pot legalisation coupling it to green energy.

Silicon Valley is Pot Valley
People who live in glass houses should get stoned

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web

18 thoughts on “Solar ginseng”

    1. I like MikeM’s a lot as well, but will submit:

      I &#9829 green buds and green bulbs

      (disclosure, i am MikeM’s son…)

      1. oh, that HTML didn’t work very well. that was supposed to be a heart. does this work? &hearts

        maybe that’s a good geek bumper sticker then? I &#9829 HTML!

  1. Many varieties grow in full tropical sun. This is a result of breeding for use under the much lower light levels indoors. If legal a Michigan field ready strain would be ready in short order.

    Keeping lettuce from turning bitter and bolting would be a boon, though.

  2. On this side of the Atlantic, we could probably cover a lot of West Texas with solar panels without too many people noticing. I used to occasionally drive through King County, where less than 300 people live in 913 square miles, and it’s usually sunny there.

  3. In Korea lately I was told that good ginseng needs *six* years to develop properly. The best stuff there grows right by the DMZ – where it is indeed shaded to protect it from too much sun. So the photovoltaic units you mention might be just the thing.

    For the competition, I think that MikeM will be hard to beat, and I’m not going to try.

  4. I like MikeM’s entry.


    “Where munchies meet crunchies.”
    “THC spelled backwards is BTU.”
    “Electrical banana” (or, “They Call me Mellow Green”)
    “J is for Joule.”

  5. “Sense and sensimilla” except that it doesn’t bring out the green stuff.
    “Sergeant Volta’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

    But so far Mike M clearly has the win.

  6. Yeah, I gave it a go, but I can’t come up with anything better than MikeM’s entry. Well done, Mike, I’ll smoke one in your honor!

  7. “Solar energy is practically a free lunch except for one thing: land use.”

    And the cells. And the power conditioning electronics. And the storage for at night. And the supporting structure… But yes, it’s pretty much a free lunch, once you’ve set aside all the costs. Why would a free lunch require favourable feed-in-tariff or tax breaks? Solar requires all that, exactly because it’s not anything like a free lunch. It’s actually remarkably expensive.

    1. What a lousy slogan! 🙂

      Most of those costs are capital not ongoing costs. True, cells would eventually need to be replaced etc. I think he was referring to the ongoing costs of capturing solar. But you probably knew that. Land use would be an ongoing opportunity cost. I don’t think any thoughtful person would claim that there are zero ongoing costs to any given energy capture scheme. Is it cheaper than capturing energy from coal or NG? No, but I suspect it could be structured so if all the real costs of those were not externalized.

      1. Nah, the vortex of partisan madness has just expanded to the point where there’s nowhere on the internet outside it, so what’s the point? You guys have gone mad here, but that doesn’t distinguish you from anybody else at this point.

  8. The World Goes Solar. Japan’s FiT in July is among the highest in the world. It’s clear that Japan’s FiT will shake the solar market. Now, US has the same options. New solutions will be showed in Japan. This is it!
    As you know, earthquake in Japan is happening frequently. Floating solar panels installation is one of the best solutions for power crisis in Japan. So you have to reduce vibration to install Floating solar panels. Because, it makes many kinds of problems! Vibrations caused by wind, waves and external forces. New Floating Body Stabilizer for Floating solar panels installation has been created in South Korea. The Floating Body Stabilizers generate drag force immediately when Floating solar panels are being rolled and pitched on the water. Recently, these Floating Body Stabilizers have been used to reduce vibration of Floating Solar Panels in South Korea. You can see New Floating Body Stabilizer videos in YouTube.,

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