Content produced in partnership with Hydro-Québec
Energy consumption is one of the biggest challenges for controlled-environment agriculture. It is directly related to the financial and ecological performance of vertical farms all over the world.
In Quebec, Winter Farm leverages a clean and renewable energy source to run its vertical farming units. Accessible and affordable, hydroelectricity makes it possible for Winter Farm to dream big and be well positioned to grow its project across the territory.
Getting the most out of each kilowatt-hour
Winter Farm’s energy performance strategy is based on an efficient use of resources and on recovering the energy used by the controlled-environment growing room. In other words, every kWh contributes twice to wintertime produce farming, as the heat extracted from the Winter Farm unit is redistributed to an adjacent greenhouse.
A water-cooled LED light was specially designed by the company in order to reproduce the ideal light spectrum for growing strawberry plants. The lighting system is integrated into Winter Farm’s general climate control system and limits the amount of sensible heat to be extracted from the air. The heat recovered through the LED cooling water is extracted by a heat pump, then recovered at the pump’s condenser at a higher temperature. This circuit is used to heat the adjacent greenhouses and reduces the need for fossil fuels to maintain production throughout the winter.
Yves Daoust, founder and CTO of Winter Farm and François Désautels, Commercial Delegate, Hydro‑Québec.
Creating the ideal climate
As they grow, strawberry plants exude water that evaporates into the ambient air. This increases the level of humidity in the growing room. In order to maintain an optimal climate, Winter Farm developed a dedicated dehumidification system for its production spaces. This will mean significant energy savings, as the need to overcool the air in order to extract humidity from it will be reduced to a minimum. As a considerable portion of heat is extracted by cooling the LEDs, the main role of Winter Farm’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) systems is to ensure the dehumidification of the air. Therefore, in a Winter Farm, air temperature and humidity are controlled independently of each other.
Discover how these energy efficiency efforts make it possible to harvest the fruits of innovation. (English subtitles)
Winter Farm’s heat recovery system stimulate the greenhouse industry’s energy transition. In Quebec, during the winter, the energy transferred from a Winter Farm unit to a greenhouse cuts that greenhouse’s gas emissions by 80%.
Those numbers also mean major savings for growers. In Vaudreuil, the Saint-Denis family has seen their heating costs melt away by 90%. By working with local growers, Winter Farm ensures the sustainable development of food resources and works to see Quebec’s food autonomy flourish.
Want to know more about Winter Farm’s heat recovery system and efficient energy use? Continue reading up on it on Hydro-Québec’s website.