The special glass has been developed by Brite Solar Technologies from Greece. Nick Kanopoulos, the man behind Brite Solar Technologies: "The glass we make has a special, transparent coating that transmits 70 to 75 percent of light in the frequencies that are important for photosynthesis. The glass also features special stripes, similar to what you seen in the rear window of a car. These are solar cells that generate energy from sunlight, so the glass actually functions as a solar panel. An additional advantage is that the glass also has improved insulating properties, so less energy is needed to heat the greenhouse. "
In Greece the glass has already been tested on a small scale on a 100 m2 greenhouse. Many growers feared that the glass letting through less light would have a negative effect on crop yield, but this turned out to not be true in those tests. There were as many kilograms from the test greenhouse in Greece as from comparable greenhouses without special glass. In addition, the glass also generated an energy gain of 5,400 kilowatt hours per year during the test.
The glass will larger on the Dutch prototype greenhouse. Where the glass panels in Greece measured 50 x 50 cm, they will now be 1 x 1.2 m. The results of the project will be closely monitored by Brite Solar Technologies, both remotely and by people on the ground. Nick: "All kinds of sensors will be placed in the greenhouse, so that we can monitor the results from anywhere in the world."
Although the first prototype has not even been built yet, Maurice Kassenbouw already has a second project lined up for another two hectares. However, they need to wait on the results of the first greenhouse. "In the south of Europe in particular, I expect a high energy yield. There is already interest in this type of greenhouse in Dubai, and we expect that we will soon be able to build these types of greenhouses on a large scale."
The glass is now 6 mm thick, but in order to be able to replace existing glass in existing greenhouses, they are working on glass with the conventional thickness of 4 mm.
Ultimately, the goal is for these greenhouses to be self-sufficient in terms of energy and to be a solution to the problem of food scarcity. Michel: "The question that we are jointly facing is: how are we going to feed nine billion people by 2050?"
European innovation program
The construction of the greenhouse is part of the European Innovation Program Southern Netherlands (PROJ-01061).
For more information:
Brite Solar Technologies