Strawberry lovers visiting Wimbledon this month may be surprised to learn that their fruit was grown in a solar-powered greenhouse.
Glasshouses in Kent have been fitted with transparent panels as part of a trial to increase solar power supply without needing more land.
Researchers from the University of Greenwich will conduct their investigation at Hugh Lowe Farms, which supplies fruit to the annual tennis event and major retailers.
Late last year, the government-funded trial began and has gained significance since the energy crisis. First, the Ukraine war spotlighted the local energy supply with a grant of $250,000. Electricity produced by this project is expected to power irrigation systems, housing for field employees, temperature control devices, and more.
A goal of doubling solar output to 70 gigawatts by 2035 has been established by ministers who want the United Kingdom to increase its energy generation capacity as quickly as possible.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Dr. Elinor Thompson, a photosynthesis expert from the University of Greenwich, stated.
Greenhouses are being converted with photovoltaic panels.
“Before the energy crisis, it appeared to be an excellent relationship. However, producing your energy has been increasingly important over time. Because farms are typically located in isolated areas, having a self-sufficient power source is advantageous because it helps the environment.
This notion may alleviate residents who are concerned about solar panels engulfing the countryside, and farmers will be able to use land that would have been designated for panels to grow crops.
“The public naturally never wants to see property covered in solar panels, so this is a logical method to retrofit solar onto existing structures,” Thompson added.
Farms are reducing their carbon impact, which retailers want to see. The government also wants to lower the UK’s carbon footprint.”
Semi-transparent photovoltaic panels attached to the glasshouse’s sides allow light to pass through the fruit and the roof.
A flexible panel attached to the side of a polytunnel will be added to the trial on Friday for the first time. The research will end next spring, and more studies may follow to ensure the technique can be duplicated at greater scales.
For now, though, Thompson stated that she planned to eventually investigate how new, colored panels would influence the fruit’s appearance. For example, she asserted that plants could become leafier if exposed to light from orange-colored panels.
Marion Regan, managing director of Hugh Lowe Farms, stated that the company is working to reduce its emissions. According to her, “generating electricity in the field while growing food will help us reach our aims.”
Renewable energy sources like solar, onshore wind and nuclear power are all included in the government’s energy security strategy, which was released in April.