The glasshouse of the future is energy-neutral and in harmony with the landscape. These features are combined in Aquatop. Two innovations - energy-pool technology and a Smartdek smart cover - ensure that the greenhouse is energy neutral. The design is such that the greenhouse appears as part of a watery landscape. Aquatop can also be used to harmonise other buildings with the landscape or to create an invisible extension to heritage buildings.
The Aquatop greenhouse has been designed and developed by TNO in cooperation with project partners KEMA and the companies Ideeuwes and Bosvariant. The design incorporates a Smartdek, a greenhouse cover for flat-roofed greenhouses that has thermal and optical properties. In the winter, the Smartdek lets through enough light and heat to maintain the temperature in the greenhouse. In the summer, filtering prevents unwanted temperature rises. Growers can control the system to suit climate conditions.
Energy consumption is reduced to zero, thanks to energy-pool technology in the form of a liquid energy carrier (in this case, a layer of water) on the greenhouse roof. The water in the energy pool heats up, and the energy is 'harvested', stored underground, and used to heat the greenhouse when the temperature falls. This process also works in reverse: the energy pool stores cold water in the winter and uses it to cool the greenhouse in the summer. Because the greenhouse produces more energy than it uses, the grower can use the cost savings for other purposes (e.g. lighting, ventilators or pumps). Overall, an Aquatop greenhouse is energy-neutral. It can also be made 'smart', for example with additives in the water that make it spectrally selective. The light required for plant growth is let in, and heat is captured and stored underground.
Flat-roofed greenhouses with an Aquatop blend in well with the landscape. In a polder landscape, the roof has the appearance of a pool or small lake. Aquatop is therefore suitable for other purposes too, such as realising invisible subterranean extensions to heritage sites. Integrating new buildings into vulnerable landscapes is another possibility. Aquatop's energy-neutral design makes its use even more attractive.