LEDs can reduce the carbon footprint of greenhouse horticulture

Artificial lighting in greenhouses has shown to be very beneficial for plant production, timing and quality. The use of LED technology opens the door to novel production systems, with improved control of growth and quality of crops, whilst improving energy efficiency of the production system.

Wageningen UR is leading a LED project, which examines the possibilities of reducing the carbon footprint of greenhouse horticulture by the use of LED lights. Project partners involved are Philips and INRA (France). The project is funded by Climate-KIC, a EU initiative to create sustainable growth by addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation.

For greenhouse produced crops, LED lights have several advantages over HPS lamps. They emit a wide spectrum of colour and are more versatile in their applications, producing higher crop yields. LEDs produce light energy more efficiently than HPS lamps and therefore produce less excess heat. This means that lights can be positioned closer to crops, accelerating the production process.

In this project, 3D crop model calculations are performed with the aim to design the optimal LED configuration in the greenhouse. The reduction in carbon footprint of LED applications in greenhouse tomatoes, multi-layer lily flower production systems and city farming systems will be determined. Philips will perform a market analysis for these advanced LED lighting systems to determine the economic potential.

In the long-term, the project will focus on advancing LEDs and production systems to further improve their efficiency and generate new opportunities to bring them to market. Improvements in production and reductions in cost will result in profitability across the whole supply chain.

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