Growing market indoor farming – LED or daylight?

Growing populations, climate change, megacities and the loss of arable land require new concepts in food production. Greenhouses are proven to increase productivity per unit area, but usually are associated with high energy consumption. At high temperatures, cooling takes place mainly through evaporation and leads to water loss. The use of high-tech – e.g. harvesting robots – in greenhouses is increasing. Artificial intelligence is successfully used in real experiments with participation of Tencent, Microsoft and Intel, among others, to enable autonomous production without a gardener. The most rapid development takes place in cultivation in closed climate cells with LED. Here, a lot of capital is invested in R&D in order to produce reliably regardless of external climatic conditions. On the other hand, fundamentally new concepts for (glass) greenhouses are rather the exception. The market for greenhouses is expected to grow at a rate of 8% to almost USD 30 billion by 2020, while vertical farming is expected to grow at an annual rate of 28% to USD 13 billion in 2024. Vacuum-insulated greenhouses in serial modular construction with a U-value of 0.2 W/(m² x K) combine closed cultivation with use of daylight and enable a new way of food production.

Stefan Lück

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