A cost comparison of different energy sources for heating a greenhouse
In order to determine the heating costs for a typical heating season from September to May, unit cost for each fuel source must be determined as well as the total energy required to heat the greenhouse.
Example of a calculation:
Greenhouse floor area = 496 m2
NOTE: Please note that the above unit costs were accurate at the time of publication. Variability in the price of heating fuels negates any attempt to produce standard unit costs. In order to calculate your heating cost please substitute the current unit cost for the appropriate fuel source.
The combustion efficiency of these fuels is typically 60-80% of the above values of energy content except for electricity, which is usually considered 100% since there is no combustion. Even with high efficiency combustion furnaces, actual efficiency of heat transfer is only 70% on average. Therefore to determine the energy cost per unit of usable energy ($/GJ) and the cost per square metre, the following formulas are used:
Then considering 70% efficiency we divide this number by 0.70.
Energy cost at 70% efficiency
(Note: approximation based on average weather conditions)
>As with any cost calculation, individual circumstances will need to be taken into
account. For instance the use of wood and other combustible plant material (straw, coal,
wood or aggregate pellets) in most instances will accommodate the needs of the producer
provided the proper equipment is implemented and the source of fuel is reasonably close
given the bulky nature of these materials. Handling and specialized equipment expenses
will also need to be taken into account when deriving a cost calculation. Typically these
"alternative" fuels require constant supervision as delivery and consistency of
energy content can be quite variable. For this reason even though the basic cost per unit
of energy is lower other considerations will need to be factored into the equation when
comparing heating fuel sources.
For further information, contact your GO representative.