Demand-Side Optimal Sizing of a Solar Energy–Biomass Hybrid System for Isolated Greenhouse Environments: Methodology and Application Example
- A demand-side optimal sizing algorithm composed of two layers is presented. The upper layer performs the design, based on a global optimization algorithm that attempts to maximize the solar energy contribution in the hybrid system. Unlike the approach presented in , the optimization problem is formulated as a single-objective problem with an operational constraint that prevents the key elements, such as the solar field, from being oversized. The approach itself facilitates its applicability since no setting parameters need to be tuned.On the other hand, the lower layer is responsible for evaluating the operation of the hybrid system from the sizing parameters provided by the upper layer and sending the results back to the same one; hence, they are in continuous communication until the optimization algorithm converges to the global solution of the problem. Therefore, the algorithm offers a solution that integrates both the operation of the system over the period of time considered and the optimal design of its sizing parameters.
- The Energy Hubs (EH)  approach is proposed to link the two aforementioned layers. This broad methodology allows one to build a model that represents energy and mass balances between certain input resources that can be converted into other output resources. Each component of the system is usually characterized by static or time-variant conversion factors, thus, considerably decreasing the computational burden of the problem. A complete EH model for these kinds of systems is proposed, and the way in which these models are related to the sizing parameters provided by the optimization technique is depicted. This type of modelling methodology is justified as long as an effective low-level controller is implemented in the systems under study, which was addressed in previous studies [28,29] for the solar thermal field and biomass system, respectively.
- A case study in the province of Almería (Southeast Spain) is presented to illustrate the performance of the proposed methodology. In this case study, a full year of data on an hourly basis was used for design. The results obtained are analysed in operating and economic terms demonstrating and validating the good performance of the proposed methodology. The province of Almería is a region of special interest since, on the one hand, its main economic driving force is agriculture based on greenhouse crop production [30,31], and, on the other, it has a wide availability of solar energy, which makes the implementation of solar-based technologies viable.In addition, this province is the perfect illustration of the relevance of the WEF nexus in the situation where there are trade-offs between (1) the production of high-quality products that supply a large part of Europe with healthy food, (2) a development model that has turned the poorest province in Spain into a reasonably equitable cooperative agricultural model, and (3) huge stress on the water resources and aquifers as well as problems with dealing with nitrate directives and controlling greenhouse expansion. Thus, the solution offered by this paper is part of the puzzle of the transitioning agricultural systems into more sustainable pathways.
2. Hybrid Plant Description and Modeling
2.1. Plant Description
2.2. Model of the Hybrid System
2.3. Performance Indicators
3. Design Optimization Method
3.1. Operational Layer: Thermal Demand Calculation
3.2. Operational Layer: Rule-Based Control System of the Hybrid System
- If the solar irradiance is higher than a threshold value, the solar field is turned on and the energy provided by this system is used to cover the demand.
- If the energy provided is higher than the demand, the surplus is stored in the storage system.
- Otherwise, either the remaining energy in the thermal storage tank (if any) is used to cover the demand or, if not, the biomass boiler is used instead.
3.3. Sizing Layer: Optimization Problem Statement
4. Results and Discussion
4.1. Optimal Design
4.2. Optimized Plant Performance
4.3. Analysis of the Optimal Solution
- The proposed algorithm resulted in a powerful tool to carry out demand-side design of solar-biomass hybrid systems for greenhouse environments. Its use is especially recommended for applications where the demand is heterogeneous, such as for the case study conducted. There was a high demand for heating during the winter months and a more homogeneous demand during the rest of the year due to the thermal consumption of the desalination plant used to provide the irrigation water.
- The use of the EH modelling methodology was proven to be an effective mechanism for bridging the design and operation phases. This methodology allowed us to evaluate, in a simple and fast way, each of the designs proposed by the optimization algorithm during a full year of operation. This resulted in a much more adequate design of the system and avoided the oversizing of key elements for the economic profitability of the system, such as the solar field and the thermal storage tank.
- Regarding the case study, the results revealed an optimal solar fraction for the considered location (Almería province) and greenhouse size (1 ha) of 16%. With this solar fraction, the system was able to cover almost the complete thermal demand of the desalination facility during hot months where there was no heat demand from the greenhouse.
- Finally, the economic evaluation performed in terms of the LCOH and discount payback period confirmed the adequacy and viability of the solution provided by the design algorithm, especially for isolated areas where the price of conventional sources can be relatively high due to transportation issues.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|LCOE||Levelized Cost of Energy|
|LCOH||Levelized Cost of Heat|
|PSA||Plataforma Solar de Almería (Solar Platform of Almeria)|
|STEC||Specific thermal energy consumption|
|TMY||Typical Meteorological Year|
|Biomass power utilization index||-|
|c||Specific heat||J/kg K|
|Incident irradiance on a tilted surface||W/m|
|I||Radiant power received by the solar field||W|
|L||Lower bound of the decision variables in the optimization problem||-|
|LCOH||Levelized Cost of Heat||€/kWh|
|k||Discrete instant time||-|
|M||Water mass flux||kg/ms|
|N||Useful life of the system||years|
|p||Number of samples used in the optimization procedure||-|
|Heat flow rate||W|
|Specific thermal energy consumption||kWh/m|
|U||Upper bound of the decision variables in the optimization problem||-|
|Thermal loss parameter 1 of the solar field||W/(mK)|
|Thermal loss parameter 2 of the solar field||W/(mK)|
|Conversion factor to pass from Wh to kWh||10 kWh/Wh|
|Conversion factor to pass from kWh to Ws||6 Ws/kWh|
|Subscripts and Superscripts||Description|
|a||Greenhouse internal air|
|e||Greenhouse external conditions|
|Inlet solar field temperature|
|Thermal losses in the storage tank|
|o||Related to the solar collector optical efficiency|
|Related to the savings obtained with the solar-biomass system|
|Referred to the total thermal energy demand of the system|
|Transpiration of the crop|
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|Lower Bound,||Upper Bound,|
|Optimal Sizing Parameters||Performance Metrics|
|Solar field||200 €/m||53,200||0.009 kW/m||0.5% e of||3%||25|
|Biomass boiler||Power law rule||491,860||0.225 €/kg|
|Thermal storage tank||62 €/kW||26,350||-|
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Gil, J.D.; Ramos-Teodoro, J.; Romero-Ramos, J.A.; Escobar, R.; Cardemil, J.M.; Giagnocavo, C.; Pérez, M. Demand-Side Optimal Sizing of a Solar Energy–Biomass Hybrid System for Isolated Greenhouse Environments: Methodology and Application Example. Energies 2021, 14, 3724. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14133724
Gil JD, Ramos-Teodoro J, Romero-Ramos JA, Escobar R, Cardemil JM, Giagnocavo C, Pérez M. Demand-Side Optimal Sizing of a Solar Energy–Biomass Hybrid System for Isolated Greenhouse Environments: Methodology and Application Example. Energies. 2021; 14(13):3724. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14133724Chicago/Turabian Style
Gil, Juan D., Jerónimo Ramos-Teodoro, José A. Romero-Ramos, Rodrigo Escobar, José M. Cardemil, Cynthia Giagnocavo, and Manuel Pérez. 2021. "Demand-Side Optimal Sizing of a Solar Energy–Biomass Hybrid System for Isolated Greenhouse Environments: Methodology and Application Example" Energies 14, no. 13: 3724. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14133724