Heating greenhouses by light: A novel concept for intensive greenhouse production

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High-tech greenhouses are characterised by high yields and high energy consumption. Current trends towards expanded use of supplemental lighting further increase the intensity of crop production and energy use, and it is expected that the availability of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will accelerate this trend. At the same time, an increase in greenhouse lighting reduces the heating energy needed from the heating system. This study presents a novel concept for greenhouses, where both lighting and heating are derived exclusively from lamps. Such greenhouses can be highly efficient, as light is used both for crop growth and for heating. If the electric grid is based on renewable sources, such greenhouses can also be carbon-neutral and fossil-free. By using model simulations for a tomato greenhouse in the Netherlands, it was found that such greenhouses could be realised by employing a heat storage system with a heat storage capacity of 2 MJ m−2 and LEDs with a power capacity of 150 W m−2 and a photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) of 450 μmol m−2 s−1. The greenhouse heated by light was predicted to have 44% higher yields and 60% higher energy inputs than a reference greenhouse, equipped with a boiler and LEDs with a PPFD of 200 μmol m−2 s−1. This result was part of a general trade-off that was found between yield and energy efficiency. This exploration helped identify avenues for further improvement of the energy efficiency of greenhouses heated by lamps, highlighting their promise as a potential new direction in greenhouse intensification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-276
Number of pages35
JournalBiosystems Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • energy use
  • greenhouse
  • heating
  • LED
  • lighting
  • modelling


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