V-FAST consortium backed by Innovate UK and the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council.
A consortium of four British companies, comprising UK Urban AgriTech (UKUAT), Intelligent Growth Solutions Ltd, RheEnergise and James Hutton Institute has received a grant from the UK Government to advance the development of low-carbon and low-cost food production. Specifically, the V-FAST consortium will explore how co-locating energy storage (RheEnergise’s HD Hydro® Energy Storage system) with vertical farms can support a low-emission route to growing protein-rich crops in a controlled environment.
Last year, V-FAST – Vertical Farming And Storage Technologies – started investigating sites in Scotland’s Central Belt for the location of Scotland’s next generation of hectare+ scale vertical farms, powered by 100% renewables and using RheEnergise’s High-Density Hydro® energy storage system. These farms would provide locally produced fresh foods (salads and fruits) to over 60% of the Scottish population and help meet the Scottish Government’s ambitions to produce more homegrown fruit and vegetables. These site investigations in Scotland continue.
Now, with the grant support received from Innovate UK and BBSRC, V-FAST will broaden the area for its site feasibility studies to across the UK, using GIS to identify and rate suitable locations for vertical farms that are co-located with renewables and High-Density Hydro® energy storage. As part of the project, V-FAST will also undertake crop trials to establish optimal climate recipes in terms of their energy efficiency relative to produce metrics (e.g. protein per kWh or kg of CO2e).
“The V-FAST project is a great opportunity to establish routes to sustainability for vertical farming. The Advanced Plant Growth Centre, hosted at The James Hutton Institute, has reported previously on the significant sustainability of produce produced in vertical farms when linked to renewable energy and in V-FAST we will be able to mine this further by looking at production under existing and future blended energy sources.”
Prof. Derek Stewart