Karlstad University conducts research and development of intelligent control systems for greenhouse lighting, using a high percentage of locally produced renewable energy. In a newly built greenhouse on campus, tomatoes will be grown using solar cells and a battery backup that can store the surplus electricity generated.
– Sweden’s ongoing transition to a fossil-fuel free energy production requires more local energy production, says Jorge Solis, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering. The shutting down of nuclear plants, in combination with an increased power consumption and rising electricity prices, brings a need of using renewable energy sources. Combined with a battery energy storage, one can store the generated electricity and use when it is needed. There are huge opportunities to introduce smart solutions for effective energy usage within the field of lighting and food production, for example in greenhouses.
Intelligent control systems
In this project, a greenhouse has been built, equipped with climate control and a solar energy system with battery energy storage. Currently, an intelligent control system is being developed, which will optimise lighting installations in greenhouses, using a high percentage of renewable energy. This will be accomplished by means of intelligent control methods, machine learning algorithms and optimisation techniques of the built-in lighting controls. Through this the energy consumption can be reduced and lighting installations can be optimised and adapted to use a higher percentage of locally produced, renewable energy.
Current project status
The greenhouse was built above the roof of the recycling station at Karlstad University, and the climate control has been in service since December 2021. The solar cells were installed on the roof of the sport hall, and the battery system is in service since October 2021. Both the climate control and the parameters of the battery system are logged in real time, and can be remotely controlled via a computer placed in the greenhouse. The Greenhouse will now be used to grow, among other things, tomatoes.
Research and education
– This is a project where we can involve our students, for example students in Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, says Jorge Solis. Undergraduate students in Electrical Engineering have already made a study visit in order to have a general view of the project and to open for the possibility of internships or degree projects. We also have currently a visiting doctoral student from Tokyo Institute of Technology, who is participating in the research.
Five-year study financed by the Swedish Energy Agency
Karlstad University’s collaboration partners in the project are the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Glava Energy Center and SC Burman AB. The reference group in the project is Scaaler AB. The Swedish Energy Agency has granted 3575486 SEK to the project, which lasts until 30 November 2025.
IMAGE CREDIT: Karlstad University