Greenhouse Design: Thermal Banking and Renewable Energy

Yet another great video from our friends at Cooking Up a Story. At Minnesota’s latitude, farmers who can extend their growing season have a distinct advantage in the marketplace: By offering a product outside the “normal” growing season, they can receive a higher price. That’s what Schwen has done with his greenhouse vegetable production, starting earlier in the year with seedlings of warm-season vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and peppers), and continuing production into the fall and even the winter months when he grows cold-tolerant crops such as salad mix, cilantro, scallions and carrots. Season extension is a common enough practice, but what makes Schwen’s operation so unique is the added innovation of thermal banking, which significantly reduces the energy costs of running a greenhouse for cold-season production. Schwen’s simple description of thermal banking is that it’s like a savings account: Instead of money, you save (or store) energy for future use. In this case we are talking about the heat that accumulates in a greenhouse during the daytime, especially on sunny days. As you watch the video, you’ll appreciate the level of detail Schwen provides about the greenhouse’s design and construction. Schwen views this technology as a key component of his farming operation, particularly in this time of global climate change and energy insecurity. He feels this project moves him closer to his ultimate goals of energy independence and self-sufficiency. To read more, and to access the PDF referred to in the video, please visit Cooking Up a Story.

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