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Ontario greenhouses pilot testing energy efficiency technologies

Two growers in the Windsor-Essex region of Ontario are testing LED and AI systems with the support of the province's Independent Electricity System Operator.


October 15, 2020
By Energy Manager Canada
greenhouseAllegro Acres, a family-owned greenhouse pepper farm operating in Southwestern Ontario, will install Sollum Technologies’ smart LED lighting solution, Allegro will be the first producer of greenhouse peppers during the winter period in Canada. Pictured (l-r) Kassim Tremblay, vp business development, Sollum Technologies and Gene Ingratta, president of Allegro Acres. (Sollum Technologies)

Two greenhouse growers in the Windsor-Essex region of Ontario are testing energy-efficiency technologies  with the support of the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

Over $1.1 million of financial aide will be provided over three years to the following projects.

  • Allegro Acres Inc.: To evaluate the performance of low-intensity light emitting diode (LED) lighting and controls used over a 24-hour period against the current practice of using high-intensity high pressure sodium (HPS) lighting over a 16 to 17-hour period. This lighting strategy has the potential to reduce electricity use by 15 to 33%, based on a previous study.
  • Great Lakes Greenhouses Inc.: To develop an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered program that uses data and a learning algorithm to increase energy efficiency without reducing crop yield in large-scale commercial greenhouses.

Supported by the IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund, the pilot projects are a response to consultations with communities, the greenhouse sector, local utilities and other sector partners, to integrate innovative thinking and explore new solutions beyond conventional electricity infrastructure.

Ontario’s greenhouses make up over 60% of Canada’s total greenhouse area, and electricity use in this sector is forecast to increase 180% from 2018 to 2024, driven in part by expansion in Windsor-Essex.

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2019 Greenhouse Profile Study showed the potential for energy efficiency to help manage increasing electricity demand in the sector while reducing costs for greenhouses.

This study resulted in the regionally-targeted Save on Energy Regional LED Incentive for Greenhouses – an energy-efficiency incentive to address regional reliability needs and encourage greenhouses to improve overall facility operations. The program has committed 60 GWh of energy savings and 5 MW of demand savings to date, with more project applications on the way.

The findings of the pilot projects will be shared with the greenhouse industry and help inform future program offerings to the sector. This investment is part of an allocated $2.5 million by the Grid Innovation Fund for indoor agriculture projects. Additional projects will be announced in the near future.