We already mentioned LED lighting in nursery environments last December (PDF). But if you’re looking to operate your greenhouse with more efficiency and less cost, rapidly-developing LED technology is getting to where it’s worth more than a cursory glance.
Researchers at Penn State University have studied the idea extensively, using grant funds secured in 2010. They found there may be numerous benefits to using LED grow lights. In addition to lasting longer than traditional lights and burning less energy, they also give off less heat. This could reduce the cooling costs that greenhouse operators incur, and it may even reduce the amount of water needed to irrigate plants.
LED lights have the unique advantage of very precise wavelength controls — they can be adjusted to throw out only certain portions of the light spectrum. This could be good for plants in two ways. First of all, most plants don’t need the entire spectrum — they may prefer only blue, green or red light. Second of all, the presence of certain colors of LED light could discourage certain pests and parasites, thus reducing the need for other types of pest controls.
This article explains the study methodology as well as the results.