‘Sun is the ultimate source of energy.’
We all have heard this universal fact infinite times in our lives. But, what’s its significance?
It is self-evident that we need to store and save the energy we receive from the sun, especially in the technology-driven world we live in today.
Solar panels have been used for a long time to collect solar energy for homes and industries. But have you ever considered fusing solar power with farming?
Sounds interesting, right? It can be done with the help of a solar greenhouse.
Let’s find out more about solar greenhouses in detail!
What Is A Solar Greenhouse?
To understand a solar energy greenhouse, we must be clear about the term ‘greenhouse’ itself.
Simply put, a greenhouse is a glass structure used to grow plants in extreme weather conditions. A greenhouse can regulate its climate by absorbing light without using complicated and energy-intensive heating systems. It helps grow plants that require a regulated temperature to grow.
A solar energy greenhouse is a structure that has solar panels installed. They collect the light from the sun and transform it into heat. It provides the right environment for the growth of plants even in unfavourable climatic conditions.
Undoubtedly, the sun provides all greenhouses with the necessary light for photosynthesis. But by using a light-altering dye or adding solar panels on the roof, a solar energy greenhouse can assist plants in the process of photosynthesis.
How Is A Solar Greenhouse Different From Traditional Greenhouses?
The term ‘solar greenhouse’ typically refers to a passive solar energy greenhouse.
Here’s a fun fact: All greenhouses are ‘solar’ because they use the sunlight to create a suitable environment for the plants to grow. Yet, the way in which they work is different – hence, the variation.
Significant differences between solar and conventional greenhouses are as follows:
- – A traditional greenhouse uses propane, gas, or electricity to heat the air at night or in the winter. In contrast, a passive solar energy greenhouse uses light from the sun.
- – A passive solar energy greenhouse depends upon the sun and natural elements instead of the propane heaters that a traditional greenhouse uses.
- – If needed, a solar energy greenhouse can also generate electricity that can run appliances like fans for cooling if it gets too hot.
Working Of A Solar Greenhouse
Greenhouses heat the structure through the greenhouse effect. But as mentioned earlier, a solar energy greenhouse is oriented toward the sun.
A solar greenhouse has large windows facing the South. The north side has black stone blocks that help absorb and hold the sunlight.
In other words, solar energy greenhouses are glass-oriented to maximise the energy from the sun. Natural ventilation reduces heat in the summer and minimises heat loss in the winter.
Please note: If you’re using solar panels to build your solar greenhouse, you can have solar panels cover the windows facing the South direction.
Solar Greenhouse And Carbon Emissions
Solar energy greenhouses are one of the least carbon-intensive ways to generate solar electricity. Solar energy causes no carbon emissions during the process of absorbing sunlight and generating energy.
Therefore, solar energy greenhouses are efficient and cost-effective energy sources that help the environment by curbing carbon emissions.
Advantages Of A Solar Greenhouse
Let us learn about the numerous advantages of a solar-powered greenhouse.
- A step towards sustainable living: The fact that the sun is a renewable energy source is one of the most crucial benefits of a solar energy greenhouse itself. It helps in walking a step towards sustainable development.
- Environment friendly: A solar energy greenhouse can curb conventional and toxic greenhouse emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions are one of the most severe and significant environmental problems. Thus, the importance of solar energy greenhouse increases multifold in this case.
- Cost-effective: Electric or natural gas-heated greenhouses can be expensive to maintain. On the other hand, a person won’t typically have to worry about the electricity bill when using a solar energy greenhouse. After all, there is no cost involved when using the sun as a resource. You only need to bear the installation cost, maintenance is inexpensive.
Disadvantages Of Solar Greenhouses
We have learned about the different advantages of a solar energy greenhouse. However, there are a few minor disadvantages that must also be considered before installing one.
- Less efficiency under a cloud cover: When a cloud cover and rain limit sunlight, the efficiency of the solar greenhouse reduces. But that shouldn’t hold you back. You can actually buy a small battery bank to store solar power for emergency uses.
- A little pricey upfront: The price of a solar energy greenhouse with solar panels is higher. But the cost is recovered in a couple of years. And the reduction in electricity bills saves a lot of money for decades.
So, are there any adverse effects of using the solar-powered greenhouse technology for the plants?
In a study at North Carolina State University, the impact of solar-powered greenhouses on plants was examined. Twenty varieties of tomatoes, lemons, strawberries, cucumbers, basil, peppers, and cucumbers were tested for growth and fruit production.
According to the scientists, 80% of the plants were unaffected by the use of this technology, and 20% of them even grew better.
With time, people are becoming more aware of the advantages of using renewable energy sources. We can now harness the sun’s energy and use it to run a solar greenhouse.
Solar insolation and ambient temperatures are quite high in tropical countries. This is why summer greenhouses can be built in such places so that the interior temperature is kept low and the plants receive enough sunlight.
Since the light and temperature in greenhouses can be controlled, they are now also used to grow vegetables and flowers all year long. Some greenhouses are also built with water efficiency in mind.
Now that you are acquainted with the working, advantages, and disadvantages of a solar greenhouse, you can make an informed decision while installing one.
Q. Where can I store the energy converted from a solar greenhouse? Is the storage only limited to the greenhouse?
Depending upon convenience, you can use a battery bank to store solar energy. This is particularly helpful in places that receive less sunlight in comparison with tropical places.
Q. What are some things I should be aware of before setting up a solar greenhouse?
Setting up a solar greenhouse is very different from a traditional one as it requires keen attention.
You should be especially mindful of the orientation of the solar panels and the ventilation in the greenhouse.
Q. How do I choose a suitable solar greenhouse for my farm?
Choosing the right kind of greenhouse is a big concern for every potential solar greenhouse buyer.
Depending on the size of your farm, location, and the type of vegetation, you can decide which greenhouse is ideal for your requirements.