The Future Of Agriculture Is Inexplicably Tied To Renewable Solar Energy
Forward Thinking, an architecture firm in Spain, has developed an exciting new agricultural design concept that could totally revolutionize coastal food production.
This company created a blueprint for the Smart Floating Farm (SFF), an offshore aquaculture and hydroponics complex with solar panels and other sustainable technologies.
The SFF could be used in oceans and seas throughout the world.
Like most ideas, this architectural concept was inspired by an existing design, partially based on a type of fish farm that is common in Asia. These impressive floating rectangles usually measure about 380 by 220 yards, and resembles a gigantic pontoon boat with three stories.
It’s roof is a hub of fans, microclimate controls, and irrigation tools, and this is where waste and energy management takes place.
Solar floating farms make extensive use of hydroponics, a way to grow plants with no soil. Although these farms could still be affected by severe storms, this technique generally allows farms to grow vegetables regardless of the weather conditions, and it eliminates the need to transport large quantities of soil offshore too.
The bottom level of this floating agriculture system is closed off from the outside environment and primarily devoted to fishing operations.. It features a fish nursery, egg hatchery, storage area and slaughterhouse. In addition to raising fish, the farm’s personnel would catch seafood using cages.
Offshore locations benefit from sun and wind exposure, making it easy for the farms to fully power themselves with renewable energy. It is even possible to generate electricity from ocean waves.
Within four decades, scientists expect a rapidly changing climate to greatly reduce food production…with disastrous effects.
Meanwhile, the Earth’s population is likely to reach 11 billion by the year 2100.
Offshore solar floating farms have the ability to increase agricultural “land” even as larger portions of the world continue to be developed and covered with residential buildings.
With this symbiotic relationship of an aquaculture (fish), hydroponics (crops), and photovoltaics (solar power) systems, the SFF could produce food all year round, regardless of water scarcity, drought, and even natural disasters.
Forward Thinking predicts that each SFF could produce around 1,700 tons of seafood and 8,150 tons of vegetables throughout the year. It would be largely self-sustaining in many ways with the potential to solve food shortages in parts of the world with dry climates or overpopulated cities.
This type of food production would undoubtedly boost freshness by reducing the distance food must travel from farms to grocery stores, and at the same time also decrease the amount of gasoline and diesel trucks use to carry food from rural farming areas to large cities.
It will also naturally work best near huge coastal cities, including New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Cairo and Montreal, but it has the potential to be deployed in a wide range of places around the globe.
Photovoltaic panels and solar water heaters aren’t only useful for offshore agriculture.
Farmers can benefit from them in almost any part of the world. They cut the cost of drying, pumping, heating and powering electric fencing. This often results in considerable savings when farmers don’t need to pay for utility line extensions or use oil to heat water.
Agriculture is one of many sectors in which solar power is helping people find sustainable, economical solutions to the world’s problems.
Renewable energy clearly has the potential to not only prevent food shortages, but cut our emissions and thereby conserving natural resources and reducing production costs.
Solar power is the way of the future.