THERMAL ENVIRONMENT MODELLING OF THE MONO-SLOPE SOLAR GREENHOUSE FOR COLD REGIONS
The extremely cold outdoor temperatures in winter continue to be a barrier for the greenhouse growers. In Saskatoon, for example, it is less than -31.5℃ for 1% of the year (ASHRAE, 2013). This limits the growth of the greenhouse industry in Saskatchewan which has around 250 billion square meters of farmland, and accounts for 38.5% Canada’s farm area (Statistics Canada, 2016). Due to this fact, most traditional Canadian greenhouses in the Canadian Prairies shut down during the coldest months (from November to February) because of heavy heating bills. However, the local demand for food in the winter has been increasing in Saskatchewan due to a rise in population and consciousness of healthy food. If compare traditional local greenhouses with other greenhouse production techniques, Chinese mono-slope solar greenhouses do not primarily rely on supplemental heating. They rely on solar energy to maintain the indoor temperature. Fortunately, Saskatchewan has the most hours of sunshine annually in Canada which theoretically provides a favorable environment for the establishment and development of mono-slope solar greenhouses (Environment Canada, 2017). This also greatly reduces heating costs. The objective of this study was to evaluate the thermal environment and predict the energy consumption of solar greenhouse production in Saskatchewan. This was done using an existing simulation model RGWSRHJ that was developed by Chengwei Ma in China (Ma, 2015). Several modifications were made to make the model SOGREEN that is suitable for the cold climate in Saskatchewan. These modifications included meteorological year data invoking, advanced front roof covering, summer solar screen, and so on. Later, the modified simulation model SOGREEN was validated using field data that were collected in a solar greenhouse in Elie, Manitoba. Solar greenhouse production was simulated under the weather conditions in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Finally, the energy consumption was analyzed using the simulated data to select the most suitable and economical energy resource for solar greenhouse production in cold regions. From the validation results, there were 9.6% and 13.7% discrepancies in the model’s predictions of indoor temperature and relative humidity, respectively. This has demonstrated that the modified model could simulate the thermal environment of a solar greenhouse with a relatively high accuracy. While the simulation results confirmed that a large amount of energy was used for supplying heat from November to March, there was almost no supplemental heat needed between April and August. This illustrated that solar greenhouses can fully utilize the solar energy, dramatically reducing the annual energy consumption. From an energy cost analysis, $26378.56, $2498.51 and $2610.00 was spent for supplemental heat with electricity, natural gas, and coal. Therefore, among these three energy resources, natural gas was the most affordable and most environmentally friendly option for greenhouse production. Compared with the natural gas expenses of Grandora Gardens, vegetable production in a solar greenhouse can save as much as 83.6% in energy costs. This demonstrates that solar greenhouse production in Saskatchewan is in fact economical for the Canadian Prairies.
Solar greenhouse, Thermal environment modelling, Validation and simulation
Master of Science (M.Sc.)