Tennis fans tucking into strawberries at Wimbledon this month may find their fruit has an unusual origin – a solar-powered greenhouse. Transparent panels have been attached to the sides of glasshouses in Kent as part of a trial to build up solar power supplies without using more land. Hugh Lowe Farms, which supplies fruit to the annual tennis tournament and major supermarkets, is hosting the study by researchers at the University of Greenwich.
The trial, which has received £250,000 in government funding, began late last year and has taken on more significance since the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine threw a spotlight on domestic energy supplies. It is hoped the energy generated can be used to power automatic watering and temperature-control equipment, as well as housing for workers on farms.
Ministers are keen for Britain to ramp up energy production and have set a target of increasing solar output five-fold to 70 gigawatts by 2035. Dr. Elinor Thompson, a photosynthesis researcher from the University of Greenwich who is leading the research, said the initiative was a “no-brainer.”
“It looked like a great collaboration before the energy crisis. Over time it’s become incredibly pertinent to produce your own power. Farms are often in remote locations, so it’s useful to have your own power source as well as helping the planet,” she said.
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