They’re designed to be controlled environments where we grow our crops.
But the space they occupy could still be used to generate electric energy from the sun.
What do i mean?
Two fields lying side by side.
One is covered with greenhouses used to grow veg, herbs, fruits and flowers while the other has hundreds of solar panels harnessing energy from the sun.
A cool picture ain’t it?
Well it could be better and here’s how…
What if the plastic material used to make greenhouse covers could still be used in converting solar energy into electricity?
Is it possible?
Well yes, thanks to:
THIN FILM SOLAR CELLS
Now for a moment, imagine a solar cell so thin that it can be ‘printed’ onto a plastic sheet
Yes…these are thin film solar cells.
They vary in technology from Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS), to Cadmium Telluride (CdTe), to amorphous silicon – all of which could be tailor-made into translucent films.
This technology was once touted as a possible replacement of the conventional solar cells we know.
But technology advances of conventional solar cells still puts them at the top of the league many many thin film solar cell companies struggle.
But what if this technology is given a twist?
What if we integrate solar cell technology into agriculture?
THE ELECTRIC GREENHOUSE
This idea of solar panels on greenhouses isn’t new.
But what’s unique us when the solar cells are less bulky – less weighty thereby allowing them to be printed onto plastic sheets used to make greenhouses.
That way, the entire surface area of land could be used to grow food and generate energy at the same time.
The energy generated from the surface of the greenhouse could be used to run water pumps, cooling or hearing operations in the farm.
Now take a look at any space that exists around us…
Think how many greenhouses could fit in those spaces.
Now imagine crops growing in those greenhouses.
But don’t stop at that.
Think about the amount of energy converted from sunlight striking the surface of these same greenhouses.
Assume that the energy density of the sun is 50W per square metre.
If your greenhouses occupy 200 square meters, the energy hitting the surface of your farm is about 200 * 50 = 10,000W.
If only half of this is captured at any one time, then 5,000 Watts are at your disposal.
Now assume that your thin film solar cells convert only 20% of the sunlight to electricity.
It’ll mean that beyond farm produce, your greenhouses could generate an extra 1,000W of energy – amount of energy could power 100 low watt bulbs!
You’ll never go wrong with integrating energy with agriculture.