In Barberêche/ FR, the Aeberhard family and the solar energy company Solstis have built a solar installation unique both from an architectural and aesthetics point of view. This photovoltaic system, with a capacity of 110 kW, can cover 330% of the energy needs and supplies about 100,000 kWh per year, compared with their own metered consumption of 30,000 kWh/a. The solar current is repurchased by the local distributor, Group E.
For the construction of their new loose housing system, the Aeberhard family and Solstis completed their design along the lines and in the spirit of the architect Lord Norman Foster. They have written a page in the history of architecture of Switzerland. For the on-roof photovoltaic installation, they first of all chose the size of the panels, then calculated the overall dimensions. It was the surface area of the photovoltaic panels that determined that of the roof. Both the overview and fine detail were planned to perfection and seamlessly coordinated. The integrated nature of the farm building and the photovoltaic system with the landscape is remarkable. It is a testimony to an astonishing and unprecedented fusion between high-tech innovation and traditional agriculture. In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: "It is useful, therefore it is a thing of beauty".
The Aeberhard family considers the solar power system to be part of their retirement provision. Thanks to an incentive offered by the canton of Fribourg, a credit investment and a high feed-in tariff offered by Fribourg-based Group E, the installation will pay for itself within twelve years.
SOn the roof of the loose housing, the photovoltaic system covers an area of 960 m2 of roof. To ensure optimum efficiency of the solar cells, the air that is reheated under the cells or below the roof space is extracted. During haymaking, it is used for drying the hay: the duration of ventilation is thus greatly reduced, the quality of the animal fodder is greatly improved and a great deal of energy can be saved.
In addition, preparatory work has been undertaken for the future completionof a biogas plant. This will further increase the excess energy of the building considerably. This proves that farms can become energy suppliers, provided that farm families adopt an entrepreneurial approach and are innovative in how they negotiate with electricity distributors. "We are not alive if we are not living for something": this is the motto of the Aeberhard family.