Growing trial for greenhouse solar panels
Energy costs have always been a challenge for greenhouse operations. Heliene Inc., a Sault Ste. Marie-based solar technology manufacturer wanted to trial their advanced renewable energy technology to prove a new opportunity for growers to reduce electricity costs as well as carbon footprint while increasing crop yields. Their aim was to investigate the benefits of their specialized solar panels for a sustainable greenhouse industry. To demonstrate its technology on a real-life commercial scale, Heliene needed a trusted and neutral third party for monitoring results and approached the team at the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre.
The pilot project saw basil crops grown under Heliene’s innovative solar-power producing glass at a third-party greenhouse, Freeman Herbs in Beamsville. The growing trial was analyzed by student researchers from Niagara College’s Greenhouse Technician program and was the largest demonstration of the technology in North America. Heliene’s greenhouse integrated photovoltaic module (GIPV) panels powered the greenhouse as well as polarized the light to promote plant photosynthesis.
Funding: Both the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
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