Many growers are facing high energy prices. It can be difficult to cope with that, and while some had some technology in place that helped them save on the electricity bill, others had to make the painful decision of halting winter production. There are some growers, however, who tried to find a quick solution. While this can be quite tough to do right off the bat, it's surely not impossible.
"Due to the high energy costs over the last months, several growers were last-minute pushed to take major decisions," says Patrick Casteleyn from MechaTronix. "For instance, they stopped winter production, or went over to LEDs, or balanced their WKK/CHP gas/electricity for internal greenhouse/plant use versus sales to the electricity provider of their community. Such last-minute LED purchases also have additional points of attention. For instance, will the promised delivery be realized on time (there is still a shortage and delay in the worldwide supply chain of electronic components, just look at the delivery time of electric cars and other electronic devices in our daily private life)? Is the correct LED spectrum chosen in relation to the plant? Is the existing greenhouse equipped with other 'cultivation buttons' to grow by full LED? Will you get the most up-to-date LED product specifications? Dimming, yes or no (sunshine is still free of cost)?"
According to Patrick, if some points are not achieved, this can lead to extra higher costs and additional and faster new investments. "It's always important to have the long-term goal and company strategy in mind," he remarks.
Dealing with energy prices
Patrick of MechaTronix refers to a satisfied customer in the Bommelerwaard region of the Netherlands. "Due to the high energy prices, he decided to install LED at the end of August. In a timeframe of 5-6 weeks, MechaTronix has honored the promised delivery timing + the LED light control commitment."
In the old setting, the grower had 3,288 full SON-T/HPS lamps and 3.46 MWatt energy consumption with +-120µmol/m²s. With the new system of MechaTronix, he now has 1,706 full LED lamps and 2.14 MWatt energy consumption with +-135µmol/m²s.
As the grower was very happy with the end result, they shared two videos: an example of flexibility in programming the lights with some music tones, dimming the greenhouse from 100 to 50% in just a few seconds.
"This way, the greenhouse can run on its own WKK/CHP, so they don't need to purchase additional electricity. Regarding the installation, there was no need for extra cablings or installation work; it was really 'plug & play' with the right connector! Each chrysanthemum flower cap, 62 in total, is individually controllable/dimmable by our wireless lamp network. This means that the light intensity can be set per cap by the grower according to the growth stage or the plant's needs. On top of that, extra energy costs can be saved or sold in relation to the electricity cost per hour each day."
Recent research has shown that full LED is feasible for growing chrysanthemums. "That's why we chose to also include far-red in our LED recipes as the safest choice for plant growth and the grower," Patrick points out. "In this way, the grower can be sure that they have a healthy business plan for the coming winter and the next years, also ensuring a good plant growing result."
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