REGACE showcased during open day in Pilot Greenhouse Park of the University of Thessaly

The EU-funded REGACE project was presented during an open visit day for the public in the premises of the Pilot Greenhouse Park of the University of Thessaly, which took place on Monday, May 20th, 2024.

Over 200 visitors, which expressed great interest participated at the event, which provided people with a rare opportunity to visit the farm of the University of Thessaly in Velestino, Greece.

The Director of the Laboratory of Agricultural Construction and Environmental Control of the University of Thessaly, Professor Nikolaos Katsoulas, along with the team of the Laboratory, welcomed company representatives, social partners, producers, farmers, students and business executives. Participants toured the farm, took part in workshops and tasted products grown and produced on site.

Throughout the guided tours of the greenhouse facilities, participants got the opportunity to learn from experts about the technologies developed in the greenhouse. During the event, attendees were exposed to the main challenges faced by the agricultural sector today.

REGACE Project shines

In the framework of the project, the Laboratory team has undertaken to investigate a major challenge: to apply photovoltaics that will generate electricity on the roofs of greenhouses, inside which horticultural crops will be grown. The challenge lies in the fact that these two systems, photovoltaics and greenhouses, operate in competition with each other, as both need solar radiation.

To address this challenge, the University of Thessaly will install photovoltaic panels in the Pilot Greenhouse Park, inside the greenhouse and above the cultivation, which will have the particularity that they will be able to rotate according to their axis, thus making it possible to adjust their position and therefore the shading they will cause in the greenhouse environment and then investigate their effect both on cultivation, as well as in the electricity produced.

The aim of the project is to develop an optimal photovoltaic management strategy, which will allow the maximum possible utilization of solar radiation for electricity production and at the same time ensure optimal cultivation development conditions.

This will achieve maximum profit from the optimal combination of electricity production and greenhouse products, while the greenhouse, with the energy of photovoltaics, will cover its energy needs and the surplus can be allocated to the grid, thus making the greenhouse more sustainable and productive.

The parameter of enrichment of the greenhouse with carbon dioxide will be added to the system to investigate the improvement of crop productivity in low light conditions. In addition to the economic impact, there is also a positive effect on the ecological-environmental sustainability of the greenhouse, as the project will contribute to the diversity of the energy producer market in which greenhouse owners will be able to play an important role.

At the Pilot Greenhouse Park developed and operated by the Laboratory of Agricultural Constructions, one of the largest in the Mediterranean, with a high level of installed technology and expertise in hydroponic cultivation, a variety of experimental approaches based on the circular economy concept and on renewable energy sources is being developed.

The team of the Lab designs, develops, and evaluates greenhouse technologies and management practices, utilizing funding from European and National sources, taking a holistic approach to the idea of renewable energy and circular economy.