A pioneering firm in the state of South Australia is producing 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes per year using light from the Sun and water from the ocean. Sundrop Farms uses the Sun’s energy to produce fresh water for irrigation. And they turn it into electricity to power their greenhouse to heat and cool their crops. The ventilation system also uses seawater to clean and sterilize the air. They have developed technologies that integrate solar power, electricity generation, fresh water production and hydroponics.
In 2010 Sundrop Farms began operating their first commercial greenhouse facility in South Australia, at the top of the Spencer Gulf, near the city of Port Augusta. Given the lack of fresh water and the harsh climates, traditional horticulture isn’t feasible in this area. With the help of their proprietary technologies, they’ve been growing delicious, natural and high-quality produce using Southern Ocean seawater and Sunlight since then.
After 2 years’ of construction, a 20 hectare greenhouse was completed in 2016. It uses a state-of-the-art solar tower to produce energy to power the plant’s growing systems and to heat and cool the greenhouses as required. This ‘power tower’ stands 115m high and has a field of 23,000 mirrors pointed at it, focusing the light of the Sun on a collector. About a million litres of water is drawn from the Spencer Gulf each day, and is desalinated by a cutting-edge thermal desalination plant, which can store 25 million litres - the usage is also about 1 million litres every day.
So, they don’t extract groundwater from the planet at unsustainable rates. They don’t consume fossil fuels. And they don’t use soil or valuable farmlands. Their system keeps bugs under control without the need for pesticides and it produces an equivalent quantity of food to that grown using traditional methods - but the quality is significantly better! It’s a pity that humankind didn’t think about using the light of the Sun and water from the ocean before we began our fascination with the pollution of fossil fuels, pesticides and water wastage.
Sources: ABC’s Landline program, Sunday 2nd October 2016, see
Credit for Images at top of page:
Left - Sundrop Farms Website: http://www.sundropfarms.com/sundrop-system/
Right - Landline, Kerry Staight - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-01/sundrop-farms-opens-solar-greenhouse-using-no-fresh-water/7892866