A sustainable energy for greenhouses heating in Italy: wood biomass

C. Bibbiani, C.A. Campiotti, E. Schettini, G. Vox
More than 0.7 million ton of oil equivalent is the total requirement for thermal energy in the Italian greenhouse vegetable industry, derived mostly from fossil fuels, which corresponds to 2 Mt CO2 emissions. The technology of wood biomass system is a good candidate for heating greenhouses, since this resource is considered as 'greenhouse gas' (GHG) neutral when converted to heat, excluding the GHG generation during harvesting, transportation, and pre-processing of raw materials. Besides, the CO2 enrichment in greenhouses from the exhaust gas of a biomass heating system can bring benefits for greenhouse production, along with optimal management strategies to reduce fuel consumption. Unfortunately, CO2 enrichment from the exhaust gas of biomass boilers is still challenging and expensive, considering that wood biomass boilers generate a higher volume of particulate matters (PM) and ash emissions than other fossil fuels. However, wet scrubbers and other recent flue gas conditioning devices could help to reduce costs and make this process more feasible. In the Italian peninsula, the power energy load for greenhouses heating was estimated to be between 30 and 175 W m-2, while the thermal energy consumption varies between 21 to 546 kWh m-2 year-1 according with internal air temperature and climatic zones. In general, the total cost of a heating system with boiler, loading system, accumulator, control system and safety, installation, and heat delivering can vary from a maximum of 1400 € kW-1 for systems with power up to 100 kW, 600-800 € kW-1 for power over 100 kW, to a minimum of 400 € kW-1 for systems with power over 1000 kW. Thus, a techno-economic assessment is highly recommended to ascertain the economic feasibility of wood biomass boilers for the greenhouse industry, as related to the economic incentives by the National Decree of 28 December 2012, so-called “White Certifies”.
Bibbiani, C., Campiotti, C.A., Schettini, E. and Vox, G. 2017. A sustainable energy for greenhouses heating in Italy: wood biomass. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 1170:523-530
wood biomass, greenhouses heating system, CO2 enrichment

Acta Horticulturae