ENERGY AND THE UNITED KINGDOM GREENHOUSE INDUSTRY

B.J. Bailey
There are 2555 ha of greenhouses in the British Isles and as 70% are heated, energy has always been of major importance. In the early 1970s over 500 M litres of petroleum oils were used annually in 90% of the heated greenhouses. Currently the consumption has been reduced to less than 200 M litres. This has been achieved in a variety of ways, better maintenance of greenhouses and heating systems, improved control of temperature using computer based environmental controllers, some reduction in the area of heated glass, the adoption of hydroponics and substrait growing techniques thus eliminating the need for sterilising soil with steam, and the adoption of specific energy conserving techniques.

Twenty per cent of heated greenhouses now have side and gable walls insulated by a second layer of glass or plastics film. Movable thermal screens are used in 11% of heated houses and fixed screens are used widely in the initial stages of early tomato and cucumber production. Three per cent of heated houses have full double cladding, these are used mainly for producing foliage plants which are less light sensitive. The dependance on a single fuel has decreased, 23% of nurseries can now use two or more fuels, and 30% use natural gas or coal.

Rather than reduce energy consumption some growers have sought to offset increasing energy costs by adopting more intensive production thus reducing the energy cost per unit output.

Bailey, B.J. (1989). ENERGY AND THE UNITED KINGDOM GREENHOUSE INDUSTRY. Acta Hortic. 245, 21-29
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1989.245.1
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.1989.245.1

Acta Horticulturae