Vertical farming, energy, the cost-of-living crisis and the future
You might be seeing and hearing some noise at the moment around both vertical farming’s ability to impact the current cost-of-living crisis and The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill and whether it’ll help vertical farming become more efficient, possibly as soon as next year.
In terms of impacting the current cost-of-living, the answer is ‘not as much as we like, but in the future, absolutely’. At the moment we ‘only’ have one vertical farm, albeit Europe’s largest, and are building our second but over the next ten years we’re going to see a lot more. Set-up costs will reduce, energy will be from sustainable sources and the sector will take advantage of the removal of lots of costs from the production of fresh food – lower labour costs, lower transport costs, no need for any pesticides etc. This should all have a very positive impact for consumers.
From an energy perspective, JFC1 is powered by direct private wire as well as making use of solar energy; JFC2 will use entirely renewable sources. Undoubtedly, economies of scale really matter when it comes to energy efficiency; it’s a significant cost so we are constantly exploring and updating our machinery to use less energy and the energy we do use to be used more efficiently.
In terms of the Bill, here’s what James Lloyd Jones, our CEO and founder has said, “I confess I haven’t read the detail. I believe in science and technology offering solutions to some of humanity’s biggest problems, and am obviously particularly interested in food production. I will always encourage the government to do what it can to help us make food production more sustainable.
“Vertical farming already has an important role in this and one I only see growing. We use zero pesticides, 95% less water, grow and harvest all year round, massively reduce food miles and make every acre of land several times more efficient by growing in layers above it. We work with existing genetics extremely well and there is no biological difference between our products and those grown traditionally. We are about to open the UK’s first Vertical Farming R&D Centre and will focus on how to grow a wider variety of fruits, veg and flowers vertically.”