Scotland’s renewable energy boosts VF’s green credentials
Added on 01 August 2023
Initially, the experts discovered that indoor, controlled farming for lettuce production could result in higher carbon emissions than conventional open-field methods, considering the energy consumption in Scotland in 2019.
However, due to the increasing use of renewables, which now account for up to 91% of the carbon footprint of vertical farming, the environmental impact of this technique is now comparable to UK open-field grown lettuce.
While vertical farming with 100% renewable electricity and further advancements in the approach may reduce emissions even more, it still falls short of achieving carbon neutrality.
Frances Sandison, a life cycle analyst at the Hutton Institute, who led the research, explained that vertical farming is a relatively new method still in development, leaving room for improvement in many areas.
Vertical farming currently focuses mainly on growing leafy greens and herbs, but efforts are being made to explore the cultivation of other crops like strawberries and tomatoes. Despite not being completely carbon neutral, vertical farming offers advantages such as year-round produce unaffected by seasonality, local production, reduced need for storage, and fewer pesticides.
The study was conducted on a theoretical farm, but the researchers plan to expand their investigation by collaborating with actual vertical farms across the UK, thanks to funding from the Scottish Government and industry.
Photo: The James Hutton Institute via Agritech Future