Canada: Optimized LED light for strawberry growth

Ferme d'Hiver has developed an optimized LED light that allows growers to adapt the light spectrum according to the plants' needs. In addition, the company has developed an integrated heat recovery concept with water-cooled lights to boost vegetable production 12 months a year. "We have developed an LED light that produces the optimal conditions for strawberry growth by integrating a heat management system," notes Yves Daoust, founder of Ferme d'Hiver, adding that the lights produce four times more energy than the strawberries need to grow.

Instead of being designed independently, the lights are designed and integrated with the climate control system, which manages temperature and humidity in an enclosed space. The lights are water-cooled and the heat generated is redirected to a heat recovery system. In a closed room with a high density of plants, light consumption is quite high, and the heat released must be managed," Yves Daoust explains. A 1,000 m2 growing area can generate 1 MW of heat, the equivalent of 1,000 heaters.

This heat is recovered and can then be used to heat greenhouses for vegetable production, he says. "It allows the use of electrical energy rather than natural gas or propane, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions." The heat produced by the Winter Farm units could also power a geothermal well, or heat homes or a municipal pool in an urban setting, he argues.

From the outset, Yves Daoust, who studied engineering, emphasizes that the lights designed by Ferme d'Hiver meet the needs of the plants by adapting the light spectrum according to the stage of growth or the time of day. "We can use different channels of light to give more or less energy to plants that are starting up or during fruit production," he says. Originally developed for strawberry production, the lights can also be adapted to any vegetable production.

Another advantage is that the LED lights are DLC certified, which makes them eligible for financial assistance from Hydro-Québec. To encourage the use of electricity in greenhouse production, Hydro-Quebec also offers a preferential rate of approximately 5.59¢ per kilowatt-hour (kWh). To get this rate, however, companies must be able to shed load during peak periods. "The lights are also designed to do load shedding by decreasing the intensity of the light during the required period, then compensating for the loss of light by increasing the energy load to the plants."

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