Five Insights on Energy Efficiency in Controlled-Environment Agriculture

Indoor Ag Tech Energy Efficiency Panel

Photo: Rethink Events

The rising energy costs associated with controlled-environment agriculture mean that efficiency and a forward-thinking strategy when mapping out energy use is critical. This concern was brought up to some degree during last year’s Indoor Ag Tech Innovation Summit, and during the 2023 event, which took place in late June, it was an even bigger part of the spotlight.

Two panel discussions during the 2023 Summit addressed energy costs, one focusing on innovative solutions and the other on energy efficiency strategies. Here are a few of the highlights and takeaways from the discussions.

  • “You need to start by measuring and targeting the results of your best-performing crops and the best-performing sections of your growing facility,” said Andreas Wilhelmsson, Chief Strategy Officer at Ljusgarda in Sweden. “Once you get the basics right on your plant yields, you will get a good benchmark to follow.”
  • “Get a good kilowatt per hour price from your energy supplier,” said Steve Marafiote, CEO of Sundrop Farms in Australia, who also said the sooner you engage with your energy supplier, the better. “You should also look at any alternative options, whether it’s using the sun to help grow your crop, or looking for ways to produce your own green energy through solar or wind.”
  • “You can’t improve on something you’re not measuring,” said Tisha Livingston, CEO of Infinite Acres, a subsidiary of Ohio-based 80 Acres Farms. “We need to share where we are and how we’re performing, so we can benchmark and improve.”
  • “It’s harder to implement energy-saving practices after your farm is designed,” said Marcus Whately, CEO of Growup Farms in the United Kingdom. “If you’re building new or renovating, engineer and design your facility to maximize energy efficiency right from the beginning.”
  • “Do not ignore the power your plants have to manage their own energy use,” said Anthony Younan, Vertical Market Head, Industrial Americas at Siemens. “You may be focused on how technology can help with energy savings, but the more you know about your plants, the better.”

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