More efficient vertical farming without artificial lighting

24 May 2023
Vertical sunning, invernadero para agricultura vertical

“The company NOVAGRIC, in collaboration with TECNALIA, has developed a transparent vertical agriculture greenhouse that uses sunlight”

Vertical farming using sunlight instead of the usual LED lighting

The company NOVAGRIC, in collaboration with TECNALIA, has developed a transparent vertical greenhouse which uses sunlight instead of the usual LED lighting. A significant reduction of the carbon footprint is achieved compared to other systems currently on the market.

In order to light up the greenhouse only with solar radiation, TECNALIA has carried out simulations of the distribution of solar irradiance inside the greenhouse with DesignBuilder, studying various plant arrangements at different times of the year, thus optimising their distribution.

Optical models of different configurations

Energy efficiency has been taken a step further with a cooling system based on water and sunlight. A sheet of water has been used on the roof to filter out the sun’s infrared radiation, in order to reduce cooling costs during the summer.

For both studies, optical models of different envelope configurations have been developed: with and without a water sheet to calculate the thermal transmittance and the solar factor of the envelope.

Prototype already in operation

After all the previous studies, NOVAGRIC has built a prototype of this greenhouse, which is fully operational at its facilities in Murcia. A technical-agronomic study is currently underway to validate the design in a real farming environment.

There is a high demand for healthy and local food due to the fact that the population tends to be more and more concentrated in urban areas and that they are more aware of the benefits of a healthy diet using local produce. Vertical farming can offer a response to this need. However, such systems currently face a major challenge: the high energy consumption and cost of operating them.

Project funded by the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) and the Ministry of Science and Innovation.