Energy storage company RheEnergise, which received start-up funding from the government for its ‘High Density Hydro’ long duration storage, could see its technology installed in Scotland to allow so-called ‘vertical farms’ to use cheap renewable electricity.
Vertical farms claim to minimise water, fertiliser and pesticides by using advanced soil-free growing techniques, including specialised lighting, and stacking crops in specially designed beds and trays. Their need for low-cost energy has been problematic as energy prices have risen.
RheEnergise has signed a collaboration agreement with UK Urban AgriTech, Vertegrow Ltd and Light Science Technologies to investigate a series of sites between Dumbarton and Dundee for hectare-sized vertical farms to salads and fruits for local cities.
Abundant renewable energy in the region is often curtailed because it cannot be transported to distant customers, but the low hills in the region are suitable for RheEnergise’s energy storage technology, which is similar to pumped hydro but uses a proprietary high-density fluid. It provides energy storage of 8-12 hours, suitable for the vertical farms.
The proposed sites would host wind, solar, energy storage and vertical farming. The V-FAST consortium says subject to planning and financing, the first project (estimated combined cost £28 million) could be completed by 2025 including 10,000m3 of vertical farming floor area and 80MWh of energy storage.
Stephen Crosher, CEO of RheEnergise said: “The advantage of storage co-located with a vertical farm are multiple: we use the same footprint, where the farm takes the upper levels and we utilise the basement; we use the same grid connection, often a significant cost for farming and storage; the energy storage solution can provide additional local energy services to local consumers, enabling them to benefit from lower energy costs too.”
Graeme Warren, CEO of Vertegrow said: “Energy and labour are the two biggest operational costs for any vertical farm. V-FAST can reduce the cost of energy and so would go a long way towards enabling vertical farms to offer affordable and competitively priced produce.”
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