semi-transparent solar panels on the walls of the greenhouses

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Greenhouses and photovoltaic panels share an important peculiarity: to work well, both need sun. A group of researchers from University of Greenwich in collaboration with a farm in Kent, UK, has decided to explore this common ground and its synergies. How? Covering part of the surface of the greenhouses with a type semi-transparent solar panels and that they do not interfere with the development of fruits and vegetables.

The project has received 250,000 pounds —about 293,000 euros— from the British authorities and started at the end of 2021 with a clear objective: to test the advantages of generating electricity with agrovoltaic materials. “They allow a solar panel to generate energy and protect crops. The same panel can be used both to collect photovoltaic energy and to grow crops under it,” explain from the University of Greenwichwhich clarifies that one of its great goals is to help agriculture in the United Kingdom reduce its carbon emissions to zero.

Although the project has only been running for a few months, it offers multiple advantages. Perhaps the most relevant, as the university points out, is that it allows farmers to have a clean energy source to power your irrigation equipment, thermostats or farmers’ homes.

The commitment to renewables

The objective is in line with the United Kingdom’s own plans to commit to renewable energies. Your goal —details the diary Guardian— is to quintuple solar production in 2035, which would be equivalent to a total capacity of 70 GW and the generation of some 60,000 jobs.

“Over time it has become incredibly relevant to produce your own energy. Farms are often located in remote placesso it’s useful that they have their own source of electricity, as well as helping the planet,” says Dr. Elinor Thompson, from the University of Greenwhich, to the British newspaper. The perspective has turned even after the energy crisis and the significant impact on the sector of the Ukrainian war and the sanctions on Russia.

Beyond the commitment to renewables, adding solar panels to greenhouses offers other important advantages. For example, him land saving, something that benefits farmers and photovoltaic installations alike. The solution proposed by the University of Greenwich allows farmers to benefit from the advantages of solar energy without having to dedicate surface area to the facilities and also helps to reduce the landscape impact of solar parks.

The solution that is already applied in the United Kingdom is based on semi-transparent panels fixed on the sides of the greenhouses, allowing some light to filter through while the top remains clear. Now those responsible want to go one step further and test flexible and colored structures, exploring their impact on the fruits, an area that the university already investigated years ago.

Germany is building one of the largest solar parks in Europe on a former lignite mine

He has months ahead to collect all the data: the study will not conclude until spring.

Cover Image | -JvL- (Flickr)

Greenhouses and photovoltaic panels share an important peculiarity: to work well, both need sun. A group of researchers from University…

Greenhouses and photovoltaic panels share an important peculiarity: to work well, both need sun. A group of researchers from University…

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