The project brings together researchers in horticulture, glass and photovoltaic science and economics at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, and is funded by levy body Horticulture Innovation Australia with matched funds from the Australian government.
Horticulture Innovation chief executive John Lloyd said: "Industry tells us glass-based protected cropping is an attractive option as it allows the grower greater control over an environment within an enclosed area. However, what has been prohibitive to many growers are the energy costs. This project aims to develop a product that has the potential to bring cost savings and ultimately increase the viability of protected cropping."
Lead researcher associate professor Baohua Jia from the university's Centre for Micro-photonics said the project will specifically focus on solar glass and semi-transparent photovoltaic glass. "We'll look at frontier technologies that have the power to change the transmittance or to select the different colours of light transmitting through glass that promote energy to enhance crop productivity."
Should the glass be deemed viable for industry use, the second phase of the project will be to trial the most cost-effective solutions at commercial growers in the state of Victoria. "If successful, the research will also have a huge impact on glass industries and greenhouse facility manufacturers all over Australia, and the world," added Jia.