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Completed project

Novel glass projects (VG15038 and VG16070)

Key research provider: Swinburne University of Technology (VG15038) and Western Sydney University (VG16070)
Publication date: Thursday, December 2, 2021

What was it all about?

From 2016 to 2021, the two investments Investigating novel glass technologies and photovoltaic in protected cropping (VG15038) and Research and operations to trial innovative glass and photovoltaic technologies in protected cropping (VG16070) collaborated to improve energy-efficient design and energy use in greenhouses.

The projects had a focus on the use of ‘smart glass’, semi-transparent photovoltaic glass (STPVG) and solar thermal collector technologies (STC). They delivered a scientific evidence and guidelines useful for vegetable crop growers for the potential use of innovative glass technologies to reduce input costs while increasing productivity.

Under VG15038

This project surveyed smart glass and renewable energy technologies available worldwide, evaluated their cost-effectiveness based on energy savings, productivity impacts and economic viability, and recommended optimal solution for growers who wish to use advanced energy efficient technologies in their greenhouses.

Key recommendations resulting from this research include:

  1. Installing smart films/smart glass to reduce heating and cooling costs, and water consumption. The type of smart films should be chosen according to the weather condition of the location.
  2. Growing leafy vegetables in the greenhouse with smart films/smart glass, which will significantly increase leaf yield.
  3. Proceeding field tests with newly designed smart film for plants, which is expected to improve the quality and quantity of fruits and save the costs.
  4. Further developing the evaluation software to be more user-friendly for growers to estimate the cost-effectiveness of different renewable technologies according to the weather conditions and the structure of their greenhouse.
  5. Installing solar thermal collectors, especially in cold areas to compensate the heating and cooling cost
  6. Introducing new technology, such as radiative cooling to reduce the cooling cost.
  7. Integrating photovoltaic with solar thermal technology to simultaneously generate electricity and hot water and save the required land.
  8. Replacing energy curtain with flexible solar panels to generate electricity without modifying the infrastructure of greenhouse or requiring extra space.

Under VG16070

Smart glass film reduces heat gain during high radiation hot days and blocks heat loss at night or on cold days, provides better heat insulation than normal glass and reduced temperature control costs.

This project determined the impact of smart glass film on light quality and quantity, photosynthesis and carbon assimilation, and leaf biochemistry, yield and nutritional quality of vegetable crops in a high-tech glasshouse facility. Standard management practices were used for trials on commercial eggplant, capsicum and lettuce cultivars, to assess the efficacy of smart glass film on reducing energy, nutrient and water use without impacting crop yield and quality.


Read more about this project in an article published in Vegenotes magazine during Spring 2019.

Read this article about Bringing agriculture indoors published in Future Makers magazine by Western Sydney University.

Related levy funds


Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2021. The Final Research Report (in part or as a whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation, except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).

Funding statement:

These projects are strategic levy investments in the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.