How to reduce the energy consumption of greenhouses has been on top of the discussions for some time now. In the past two decades, the global use of greenhouses for food production has increased more than six times. Also, more than 9 million acres are used for greenhouses today. As presented by Oded Kariti, an independent researcher from San Diego, there is an analysis showing how smart greenhouses can capture solar energy and convert it into for electricity without reducing the growth of the plants.
Greenhouses are quite energy intensive, and for some time now, scientists have been trying to find a way to reduce their electricity costs. Solar panels have already been highlighted as a potential solution, but normal solar panels would simply stop the light that goes through and get to the plants – a pretty big blockage.
To solve this problem, Kariti and his team decided to use specialized versions of photovoltaic cells WSPV, a fairly new technology that generates electricity more efficiently and cheaply than conventional photovoltaic systems. Also, they miss the light, although only certain wavelengths, which could potentially disturb the ability of photosynthesis plants.
For one of their experiments, the team monitored photosynthesis and fruit production across 20 varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, lemons, limes, peppers, strawberries, and basil grown in magenta glasshouses. Eighty percent of the plants weren’t affected, while 20 percent actually grew better under the magenta windows.
As Oded Kariti explains, this technology generates electricity more efficiently and costs less than traditional photovoltaic systems. These greenhouses are outfitted with transparent roof panels embedded with a bright magenta luminescent dye that absorbs light and transfers energy to narrow photovoltaic strips, where electricity is produced. WSPVs absorb some of the blue and green wavelengths of light but let the rest through, allowing the plants to grow.
Plastic greenhouses are becoming popular for small-scale commercial farming, as well as for household food production, Oded Kariti added. If greenhouses generate electricity on site that reduces the need for an outside source, which helps lower greenhouse gas emissions even more.