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 is to test and demonstrate the efficiency of new generation solar thermal energy power plants for agricultural activities. It also aims 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

The site identified in France is 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 will help 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 will confirm this after a year of use.

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 will supply this building which can house 400 calves, with hot water directly heated by the sun’s rays. It can already cover almost all of the breeder’s needs.

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 is transmitted automatically and will be analysed by research organisations involved in the project (in France and in the United Kingdom), the system will then be adapted if necessary, allowing an optimal installation of the project’s other pilot sites, this will also help to demonstrate the benefits of this type of renewable energy for farms.

The other pilot sites

3 other pilot sites will be set up on farms in north-west Europe :

  • to heat a greenhouse in the UK
  • to run an Anaerobic digestor in the Netherlands
  • to heat a farm building 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.