Solar for hydroponics – pv magazine International

An international research team has examined the combination of solar power generation with energy-intensive hydroponic horticulture and found that this may be a viable solution depending on the project size and available incentive measures. Their approach took into account several factors that affect the efficiency of PV systems, including environmental factors, the type of solar system, and the power needs of the hydroponic farm.

December 17, 2021

A Sino-Qatari research group has assessed the potential of integrating PV power generation into hydroponic farms (SAHFs), which is a type of horticultural culture that uses no soil and uses mineral nutrient solutions in an aqueous solvent, usually in greenhouses or enclosed spaces .

“Hydroponic systems enable water-efficient food production, but are not an energy-efficient solution,” explained the scientists. “That’s because they need electricity for heating and cooling, ventilation, irrigation, LED lighting, and other horticultural practices to keep the hydroponic farm running in controlled environments.”

In particular, the scientists investigated how a multi-level, electricity-intensive hydroponic plant production system can be coupled to a PV system as part of various incentive policies such as feed-in tariffs (FIT), discount schemes, net metering and electricity improvement tariff mechanisms (IET), which simply consist of the electricity prices for consumers to increase or to reduce existing subsidies on the electricity price.

Their approach took into account various factors that affect the efficiency of PV systems, including environmental factors, the type of solar system, and the demand for electricity from the SAHF. A series of experiments were carried out assuming SAHF operations in Qatar. This framework should provide SAHF developers with enough information to determine whether a PV system should be installed and what type of solar modules should be used, as well as to identify the optimal dimensioning and capacity.

Single (OAT) A sensitivity analysis was used to determine the best project configuration under the four different incentive systems.

The IET policy incentive threshold was determined to be USD 0.0425 / kWh, while the feed-in tariff and net metering threshold was USD 0.0063 / kWh and USD 0.027 / kWh, respectively. A minimum discount of 14.90% was considered necessary for the discount scheme.

The scientists explained that the IET program is most effective in getting farmers to use solar energy, although it is more expensive for them. “For the hydroponic farmers, the best strategy is to take full advantage of the space available to maximize the capacity of the PV system, when the excess electricity can be met, once it is profitable to produce solar energy and the right kind of PV system selected is sold to the grid or other units, “they stressed. “The profit of the SAHF is more dependent on the subsidy levels of the excess FIT and IET than other policy parameters, while the results of the farm are insensitive to all subsidies.”

The proposed model was described in the paper “Decisions on the design and planning of solar-assisted hydroponic farms within the framework of various subsidy schemes”, published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Ratings. The research group consists of scientists from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in China and Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar.

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