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The goal of this research was to quantify the degree of flexibility and self-sufficiency that an aquaponics integrated microgrid can provide. In order to attain this answer, a neighbourhood of 50 households was assumed a 'Smarthood', with a decoupled multi-loop aquaponics facility present that is capable of providing fish and vegetables for all the 100 inhabitants of the Smarthood.
The results are promising: thanks to the high degree of flexibility inherent in the aquaponic system as a result of high thermal mass, flexible pumps and adaptive lighting, the overall degree of self-sufficiency is 95.38%, making it nearly completely self-sufficient and grid independent. With the aquaponics system being responsible for 38.3% of power consumption and 51.4% of heat consumption, the impact of the aquaponics facility on the total system's energy balance is very high.
Earlier research (de Graaf 2018) has indicated that it is very difficult to achieve self-consumption levels over 60% without relying on an external biomass source to drive a CHP. Even with this source included, the maximum techno-economically feasible self-consumption did not exceed 89%. In the Smarthood, biomass inputs for the CHP are partially derived from the aquaponic system itself, and the recycling of grey and black water. A higher self-consumption combined with a lower dependence on external biomass inputs, and a resulting self-consumption of 95%, makes the proposed aquaponic-integrated microgrid perform better from a self-sufficiency point of view than any other renewable microgrid known to the authors.
The authors of this chapter therefore strongly believe that with enough experimentation, integrating aquaponic greenhouse systems within microgrids yields great potential for creating highly self-sufficient Food—Water—Energy systems at a local level.