Modern-day greenhouses have been often characterized as high consumers of energy, and the reason behind this is the large amount of electricity that is needed for the operation of mechanisms such as heating, fans, irrigation and lights that help crops grow and develop, as an additional support to what Nature initially provides. However, there is a current trend that seeks to reduce this energy consumption, and in fact, there are people specifically dedicated to innovating and proposing new alternatives to allow a reduction of costs in the future in terms of greenhouses in Canada.
Several experts in the field of agriculture agree that it is necessary to try to design new strategies to create energy-efficient greenhouses that not only leave behind the old models established, but also allow the reduction of operational costs that usually prevent growers from obtaining higher profit margins.
Among the different investigations that have been carried out to design energetically efficient greenhouses, stands out the common agreement to create structures that allow to take full advantage of natural sunlight, which can be almost immediately transformed into energy to boost crops.
Canada has the peculiarity of experiencing very cold temperatures throughout several months of the year, and that is precisely the reason why farmers acknowledge the importance of implementing strategies that will allow them to face the hardships of the climate and protect their crops. We invite you to read this interesting post about cultivating under high tunnels in Canada and how to cultivate against natural seasons.
Experiments conducted in Canada to take advantage of sunlight in greenhouses
Dustin Morton, an agriculture and forestry specialist in Alberta, highlights some features of the greenhouse designed by him and notes that “the innovative use of angled energy curtains in the Winterlight greenhouse has yielded additional energy savings, rather than staying horizontal (flat along the greenhouse eaves), the new curtains follow the angle of the greenhouse peak to maximize light penetration through the material, and minimize the impact of the curtain. This design has shown an increase in light of 10-12 percent over conventional constructions,” according to the specialized publication Greenhouse Canada.
On the other hand, Dr. Silke Hemming, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, has developed several research studies to try to find other options to guarantee the transformation of traditional greenhouses into energetically efficient greenhouses. In this case, the focus is trying to implement techniques that allow taking advantage of the full potential of sunlight, using Fresnel lenses that direct the sunlight to collectors that are responsible for generating heat or electricity in the greenhouse. According to Greenhouse Canada, “a leading orchid producer in the Netherlands has constructed a production facility using this method with expected energy savings nearing 50 per cent.”
Options with thermal cover plastic films
There are many other researchers who have created proposals that are roughly similar, since they agree on the importance of focusing on the issue of energy saving through the creation of greenhouses that have integrated solar panels, anti-reflection coatings and sheets that allow a greater entrance of natural light, which is quite appropriate, especially during the coldest seasons of the year. This translates into economic and production benefits for farmers who, thanks to this initiative, can extend the cultivation process, thus being able to offer their products on the market for a longer period.
Thanks to the possibility to create plastic films with different layers and additives in each of these layers, we currently find in the market options of plastic films that allow us for example, to add a thermal option to greenhouses and tunnels without prejudice to the entrance of light (power). Aside from having thermal properties, these films are also manufactured to repel dust (which blocks the entrance of sunlight), in addition to help protect the crops from pesticides and insecticides.