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EXCLUSIVE – details on energy management at the largest solar greenhouse project on Earth

August 1, 2012  By Treena Hein

The largest solar greenhouse project on the planet is located in Italy. (Image courtesy GE Energy Financial Services website.)

Energy Edge has obtained energy management details on the 134 greenhouses of the largest solar-roofed greenhouse project on the planet (‘Su Scioffu’ in Italy). Where the solar panels are not installed, the greenhouses feature polycarbonate roof material, which allows a large amount of light to come in.

The solar panels (from company ‘Trina’) do not let light through, but are mounted only on south-facing roofs. “A lot of light comes from the northern roof as well as the sides of the greenhouses,” says Mr. Lalit Jain, CEO, Wind & International Solar, at co-developer Moser Baer Clean Energy Ltd. “Diffused light comes from north and direct sunlight comes from the sides of the greenhouses.”

“Windows have been provided in the roof and on the sides to maintain the required temperatures,” Jain adds. “Elaborate water systems have been constructed to provide for high productivity with minimal wastage.”


When asked if the solar panels will be able to power the needs of the 134 greenhouses in winter and summer, or whether there is supplemental heating for the winter, Jain says “Electricity needs of the greenhouses is negligible.”

Greenhouses are operated by farmer co-operatives in the Sardinia region of Italy. This has created significant employment for the local community, says Jain.

The first crop is expected in October 2012. Energy Edge asked what crops are being grown.

“We have grown multiple crops and initial results have been much more than expected,” Jain replied. “We are able to obtain same quantity of (crop) output in these solar PV-mounted greenhouses as that grown in other greenhouses without solar PV.”

“However,” he adds, “we will be able to provide better estimates in the next three months.”

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