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Feasibility Study of a Blind-Type Photovoltaic Roof-Shade System Designed for Simultaneous Production of Crops and Electricity in a Greenhouse

The use of renewable energy in modern greenhouse management is important to achieve efficient and sustainable food supplies for a world with increasing population. This study assessed the performance of a blind-type shading regulator that can automatically rotate semi-transparent photovoltaic (PV) blades installed on the greenhouse roof in response to sunlight variation. The PV blind oriented parallel to the roof partially blocked intense sunlight penetration into the greenhouse, but it transmitted sunlight during cloudy time by turning the blind bearing to be perpendicular to the roof. A stable irradiation environment is therefore producible in the greenhouse under variable sky conditions. Annual operations demonstrated that the blinds’ own generated electrical energy can sustain PV blind operation and produce surplus electrical energy. The PV blind electricity generation and sunlight availability for crops below the PV blind roof were calculated based on a mathematical model developed using theoretical sunlight parameters and the experimentally obtained PV blind system parameters. Assuming cloudless skies and threshold irradiance for blind rotation set at 500 W m−2, 13.0 and 12.3kWh m−2 yr−1 surplus electrical energy can be generated, respectively, by north–south and east–west oriented model greenhouses. Cloudy skies reduce surplus electrical energy production by 50%, but PV blinds can supply greenhouse electrical energy demands partially or completely, depending on the degree of greenhouse electrification. Below the PV blinds, 8–10 MJ m−2 day−1 of insolation is expected to irradiate crops under actual sky conditions. This insolation is sufficient to cultivate major horticultural crops. Regulating the threshold irradiance level for PV blind turning can control the sunlight apportionment ratio for cultivation and electricity generation, thereby enabling sustainable energy–food dual production in a greenhouse.