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Solar Heat Supply Optimization for the Climate Control of Agricultural Greenhouses
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Agriultural greenhouses
A greenhouse is any closed structure covered by transparent material, inside of which an artificial microclimate can be created in order to grow plants in optimal conditions outside of their usual growing season (Sheti, 2009; Teitel et al., 2009; Bartazanas et al., 2009). This kind of agriculture requires high energy consumption due to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) costs (Chinese et al., 2005). An energy source is needed in order to keep the microenvironment within the comfort range of the particular plant to be grown. The use of agricultural greenhouses in Mexico has grown rapidly in recent years. These structures, however, have been built using foreign designs and with no analysis of the heat exchange between the greenhouses and the local environment. Insufficient or nonexistent knowledge about the energy consumption behavior and the maximum energy demand of these systems is always a source of anxiety for the owners. The fossil fuels they currently use as an energy source are a limited and imported resource, which makes their price uncertain and gives these fuels a great influence over the profitability of the business (Huacuz, 2004). This is why solar thermal energy is a source of heating power worth evaluating for use in this industry. The HVAC energy requirements of a greenhouse are not easy to estimate, since they stem from the energetic interaction of the building and the surrounding environment. The weather varies continuously following daily and seasonal cycles, and is different for different geographic locations. If solar energy for heating is added to the problem, then both the HVAC requirements of the greenhouse and the supply of heating energy are variable. This makes it necessary to use calculation methods based on numerical simulation, considering not only all the physical variables of the system but also the cyclic variation of environmental conditions.
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