A group of scientists from South Korea’s Rural Development Administration have developed a hybrid system that combines thermo-photovoltaic technology with geothermal heat pumps, offering an innovative solution for agricultural greenhouses.
Why is energy efficiency in greenhouses so important?
Energy costs in greenhouses can be considerable, especially in regions with the most extreme climates. For example, in the Mediterranean region, greenhouse energy consumption can vary from 2 kWh/m2 to 80 kWh/m2 per year, depending on their technological level.
In colder European countries, this figure can reach 900 kWh/m2! Saving energy not only means reducing costs, but also making agriculture more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
How does this innovative system work?
In winter, PVT (photovoltaic thermal) panels and geothermal probes supply heat to the pumps to produce hot water at a temperature of between 48 and 50°C. But what about the other seasons? In spring, summer and autumn, the heat generated by these panels is stored underground, then used to heat sawdust in winter.
Thus, by applying this technology in a 175㎡ strawberry greenhouse, a 78% reduction in air-conditioning costs was achieved compared with traditional systems based on diesel generators. What’s more, by installing PVT panels on just 10% of the greenhouse surface, energy savings can be increased by a further 20%.
What’s next for this technology?
The Rural Development Administration has already filed a patent application for this innovative solution and plans to distribute it to farms as part of a new technology dissemination project. In addition, further research is underway to combine different technologies and improve the use of photovoltaic panels in agriculture.