Green energy tech supplier Octopus Energy for Business has launched two dedicated tariffs for ’vertical farmers’. Vertical farming takes place in indoor facilities where crops are grown on a series of levels in a precisely-controlled environment.
Sounds niche? Octopus’s new tariff comes as delivery major Ocado’s ventures arm has invested a total of £17 million in two vertical farm companies.
It has signed a memorandum of understanding to create a three-way joint venture with 80 Acres Farms and horticultural industrial systems provider Priva Holding. The companies who are jointly designing turnkey solutions (dubbed Infinite Acres) to sell to vertical farming clients. Ocado has completed the acquisition of a 58% stake in Jones Food Company, Europe’s largest operating vertical farm, based in Scunthorpe. It is expected to produce 420t/year of leafy greens and herbs for UK customers, from more than 5,000 square metres of production area and 12 km of LED lights.
Ocado said the extreme density of vertical farms allows them to be placed much closer to customers. It wants to site them next to fulfilment centres, supermarkets and other locations near population centres. It says “We foresee a day where customers’ vegetables are harvested hours before they are packed, metres from where they are shipped.”
Zoisa Walton, director of Octopus Energy for Business, said “The fact that energy costs account for up to 40% of vertical farms’ overheads presented a problem – and we developed the Vertical Power tariff specifically to make the sector more efficient.” Vertical Power TRI avoids peak pricing between 4pm and 7pm and Octopus says it os cheaper than Ecnomy 7. Vertical Power Agile is an automated tariff that responds to half-hourly pricing. The tariffs can be used in commercial-scale vertical farms, greenhouses or smaller urban farming projects.