Direct Current highly promising alternative in horticulture

Direct Current highly promising alternative in horticulture

The use of Direct Current in greenhouse horticulture appears to be a very promising alternative. A pilot in the greenhouse horticulture sector demonstrated a positive business case for the use of Direct Current (DC) for greater durability of components, as well as cost and material savings. DC also supports the idea of climate-neutral greenhouse horticulture, as demonstrated in the Direct Current Roadmap.

The DC Roadmap, presented last Friday, is a report compiled by Berenschot at the order of RVO.nl for the Energy Top Sector and TKI Urban Energy. This DC Roadmap focuses on ‘DC microgrids’ and seven specific areas of application. A microgrid is defined as follows: ‘a system of interconnected sources and users that can operate, either independently or linked, on a higher-level grid and can exchange energy’.

Greenhouse horticulture comprises a DC microgrid

The various DC microgrids are, with respect to the innovation phase, at the beginning of the S curve: there is a great deal of uncertainty and there are numerous, divergent opinions and ideas about the value (social or otherwise) of DC microgrids. The report, however, revealed that DC is highly promising in greenhouse horticulture; only second to the market for public lighting. The reporters visited greenhouses whose entire indoor electrical system is set to DC. In this, a single, centralised AC to DC transformer is used, to which a lighting system with DC light fixtures (SON-T or LED) and in some cases a CHP unit is connected.

Advantages of DC in comparison to AC

The use of DC in greenhouses extends the life of the light fixtures. Using thin film condensers instead of electrolytic condensers allows greenhouse growers to opt for components with a longer useful life. In addition to this, material savings can be achieved because a DC system uses cables that are smaller in diameter, which therefore require less copper. Researchers also reported that DC makes the integration and control of systems easier. It enables light fixtures to be dimmed individually because the DC cabling simultaneously allows for the control of lighting (powerline communication). Lastly, the centralised conversion of AC to DC will ensure that less energy is lost in comparison to local conversion per lamp (2 – 3%) at the start of operations.

Rounding off the pilot phase

The Roadmap predicts that the pilot phase for using DC in greenhouse horticulture will be rounded off soon. Sustained growth is possible due to the increasing demand for sensors and PV systems. The first successful pilot was completed in the Netherlands and demonstrated a positive business case. This pilot is being conducted at the Jaap Vreeken bouvardia nursery. The pilot is currently being continued at a larger scale.

Conducive to LED systems

Newly built or renovated greenhouses can now also be fitted with DC electrical systems. This applies primarily to nurseries with DC-fed SON-T or LED (in the near future) light fixtures. It is anticipated that using DC will also decrease the costs of LED systems. In the future, priority will be attached to the use of PV panels and the integration of smart innovations (such as controllable light fixtures and smart sensors) in greenhouse horticulture. The integration of these technologies can strengthen the benefits of a DC microgrid.





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Winterlight greenhouse on track

Winterlight greenhouse on track

With the second crop in the Winterlight greenhouse at the Energy Innovation and Demo Centre (IDC) in Bleiswijk (NL) coming to an end, it’s time to draw some initial conclusions. The predominant feature of the greenhouse is its extremely high light transmittance.

Growers don’t only stand to gain from this in the winter but in the dark autumn months too: the 10%-plus light gain the designers were aiming for has turned out to be a reality. This not only means that all the partners involved in the project did a fantastic job, but also that the models used in the design process, such as RAYPRO, have proved their worth.

Results

On the crop side, the two high-power crops we grew also yielded good results, despite the thrips problems we had in the first crop. With a few growing weeks to go, the tally is currently 268 cucumbers with an average fruit weight of 407 grams, bringing the total yield to more than 109 kg/m2. We are pleased with the outcome on the energy front, too. In this greenhouse, which is single glazed and has two high-transparency screens and a dehumidifier with heat recovery, we used less than 20 m3/m2 gas between the end of December and mid-November. But this did mean that we had to buy in around 13 kg of CO2.





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Online software for energy-efficient greenhouses

Online software for energy-efficient greenhouses

Hortinergy is an online software package for designing energy-efficient greenhouses by simulating energy consumption and comparing technical solutions.

Energy is a major expense in greenhouse horticulture. There are currently several solutions on the market that can help reduce your energy bill. The dilemma is how to choose the best configuration adapted to the climate outside and inside the greenhouse and the crops grown in it. This is the first online software solution to simulate the energy consumption of an existing or planned greenhouse anywhere in the world.

User-friendly

Suitable for a wide range of users, from growers to consultants and greenhouse equipment manufacturers, it is user-friendly and it takes less than 15 minutes to enter your parameters. To simplify the user experience, equipment manufacturers can spotlight their branded products for selected pre-set parameters. Hortinergy is a decision-making tool for sizing equipment and optimising investments: users can compare energy efficiency and technical scenarios with a simple online interface.
www.hortinergy.com
Stand number: 12.132





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