ICaRE4Farms – the pilot site at the EARL du Boulay

The installation of a solar thermal power plant at the farm ‘EARL du Boulay’ in St-Georges-du-Rosay (France) – hot water for animal feed. 

Objective of the ICaRE4Farms project

The objective of this project was to test and demonstrate the efficiency of new generation solar thermal energy power plants for agricultural activities. It also aimed to support the roll-out of this new technology on farms in North West Europe in order to encourage use of renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More info on the project.

The French pilot site: Farm EARL du Boulay

This site identified in France was the project’s first pilot site. It was chosen because this livestock farm has significant hot water needs. Frédéric Vaucelle is the manager of the farm ‘EARL du Boulay’ in St-Georges-du-Rosay, in the North of Sarthe. He has 150 ha of UAA and a 400 place animal building for veal calves which was built in 2018 (integration – VAN DRIE). He uses a lot of hot water to prepare the milk for the calves and this uses a lot of energy. The installation of a solar thermal water heating system helps this farmer reduce significantly his use of propane.

The technology

This ETF solar thermal power plant is a system patented by FENGTECH, a company based in Mayenne. The technology on this specific site enables the farm to save 5 tonnes of propane per year, ie. a saving of 70%, as well as a reduction of 15 tonnes CO2 of per year. Scientific instrumentation and breeder’s invoices has confirmed this after a year of use.

Watch the video to learn more about the pilot site and the Fengtech technology. 

The installation

The installation of the ETF (solar thermal energy) system took place in Spring 2021. 16 units were installed in front of the animal housing. These ETFs supply this building which can house 400 calves, with hot water directly heated by the sun’s rays. It covers almost all of the breeder’s needs.

Watch the timelapse of the installation here !

A word from Fréderic Vaucelle – the farmer

Fréderic Vaucelle is the farmer and owner of this pilot site. He is a sub-partner of AC3A within the project ICaRE4Farms.

My first motivation for this project is to lower my propane gas bill. I used around 10 kg per calf before the solar thermal installation and I intend to drop to 3 kg with this technology. Apart from the initial investment and maintenance, solar thermal energy costs nothing, and it’s better for the environment. What I also like is the simplicity and autonomy of operation. I don’t need to watch it all the time. The plant also has the advantage of being made from recyclable materials.”

Monitoring the pilot site

This site is the first pilot site of the ICaRE4Farms project, it is equipped with sensors to monitor the system. The data transmitted automatically has been analysed by research organisations involved in the project (in France and in the United Kingdom), the system being then adapted when necessary, allowing an optimal installation of the project’s other pilot sites, this also helped to demonstrate the benefits of this type of renewable energy for farms.

The educational plaque on the hiking path

There is a public hiking path along the edge of the farm, and so to satisfy the curiosity of walkers, an educational plaque has been installed to explain the project and how the pilot site for producing hot water from solar thermal energy works.

The other pilot sites

3 other pilot sites have been set up on farms in north-west Europe :

  • to heat a farm building in France
  • to run an Anaerobic digestor in the Netherlands
  • to supply hot water for calves feed in Belgium

More information.


Would you like to ask us a question? contact@ac3a.chambagri.fr

ICaRE4Farms is funded by Interreg NWE – more info here.

ICaRE4Farms project comes to an end

ICaRE4Farms project comes to an end The 4-year-long journey of the ICaRE4Farms project about the use of solar thermal energy in agriculture ends in December 2023, and the consortium partners…

Webinar Replay

Webinar Replay On June 13th 2023, we hosted a webinar titled “Solar Thermal Energy in Agriculture – Supporting technology uptake and political incentives”. The webinar highlighted the advantages of next-generation STE systems for…

Webinar on solar thermal energy

Webinaire on solar thermal energy On June 13th 2023, we hosted a webinar titled “Solar Thermal Energy in Agriculture – Supporting technology uptake and political incentives”. The webinar highlighted the advantages of next-generation…

ICaRE4Farms at the SPACE Rennes 2022

ICaRE4Farms at the SPACE Rennes 2022 In September 2022, ICaRE4Farms had a stand at the SPACE international exhibition for animal breeding which takes place every year in Rennes, France. https://www.space.fr/…

Visit ICaRE4Farms at SPACE Rennes 2022

Visit ICaRE4Farms at SPACE Rennes 2022 ICaRE4Farms stand Discover solar thermal energy and its applications in agriculture 13, 14, 15 September 2022 – Rennes (France)   AC3A, the Regional Chamber…