Energy saving in greenhouse crop production by flexible management


The goal of this project is to develop greenhouse climate management support that substantially saves on gas, by employing data streams on weather and on the energy grid. This type of management will at the same time reduce the peak loads on the electricity grid, thereby helping the transition to cleaner energy.

From a substantial amount of research it was concluded that crops are much more robust than previously assumed, especially with respect to variations in temperature, relative humidity, and their ratios with light intensity. The buffering capacity of crops to absorb climatic fluctuations allows a much more flexible climate management with respect to weather and balance of the energy grid. Since this concept is hardly incorporated in current greenhouse climate control, so here lies a great opportunity.

This project has two focus points: understanding the buffering capacity of the crop, and developing real-time decision support for flexible, integrated climate and energy management. A pilot study showed that this flexibility can save as much as 47% on heating energy. This type of decision support will annually save a company with 5 ha as much as 150-400 k€, and the Dutch greenhouse industry 280-740 m€, with an additional 40 m€ turnover for the greenhouse supporting industry. The contribution to decreasing the gas demand while balancing the grid load will help the transition towards sustainable energy production. The methodology that will be developed for this project translates to the whole glass horticulture sector, and extends to arable farming and animal housing.


Project number


Main applicant

Prof. dr. ir. E.J. van Henten

Affiliated with

Wageningen University & Research, Plantenwetenschappen, Farm Technology Group

Team members

H J Payne M. Eng., A.C. Zepeda Cabrera MSc


01/09/2018 to 02/01/2022