A good number of greenhouses make use of organic matter and solar energy, but this one does so in a whole new way. The Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development (a.k.a. Neiker-Tecnalia) reports that it has developed a way to produce optimum growing temperatures for greenhouse crops using a biomass broiler and thermodynamic solar panels.
This marks good news for farmers seeking to increase year-round yields while reducing costs, as traditional greenhouse heating technologies rely on diesel or heating oil boilers, which are costly both to growers and the environment – the latter because greenhouses sometimes use petroleum-based fuels that are infamous for the greenhouse gases they produce.
This alternative energy greenhouse project took place at Neiker-Tecnalia test grounds in Derio, in the Basque province of Bizkaia, and near Bilbao. Researchers there installed a 400 kilowatt (kW) capacity biomass boiler–to date, the largest in Spain being used for this purpose. 40 thermodynamic panels were added for extra heating capacity which, according to Neiker-Tecnalia, marks the first time such tech has employed in intensive greenhouse cultivation. The combination of both technologies worked to heat water, which was then circulated in a radiant heating system below the greenhouse floor.
Heated water was also circulated through tubes just below the substrate of the crops (a hydroponic soil), keeping root temperature right around a 45 degrees centigrade (113 Farenheit), ideal for “hot-house” cultivation. A networked system of sensors was employed to keep temperatures throughout the greenhouse consistent.