Hydroponic Herb Greenhouse Production Facility
The production of fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits grown in controlled environments (i.e. greenhouses) is currently dominated by out-of-state and foreign producers, while local greenhouses provide only a minimum volume of out-of-season fresh produce to the market. Underwood’s Greenhouse [PDF] facility in Shushan, NY is currently demonstrating an energy-efficient Hydroponic Herb Greenhouse. The system will use innovative equipment including solar pumps, shade cloth, a closed feed system, and computer controls for lights and startup. The growing practices will reduce on-peak electric load while increasing production by 30%, utilizing off peak lighting. Due to its greater efficiency, the demonstration greenhouse reduces peak electricity demand by 130 kW and saves 102,000 kWh/yr compared to the equipment it replaces. In addition this facility will avoid the use of fuel needed to transport equivalent production from traditional suppliers in California and elsewhere.
H2Gro, a hydroponic vegetable grower, with a seven-acre facility in Niagara County, uses nutrient infused water instead of soil to grow their vegetables. H2Gro [PDF] worked in conjunction with NYSERDA and Modern Landfill Inc. to offset the added cost of growing in a controlled greenhouse environment as compared to a conventional open-field agricultural environment. Modern began combusting their landfill gas in internal combustion (IC) engines to generate electricity. Modern’s electricity generation project permits CHP utilization through the use of heat-recovery equipment to supply hot water to the greenhouses for use in space conditioning. Modern Landfill profits from selling their waste heat to H2Gro and H2Gro benefits from the supply of inexpensive heat.
CEA Lettuce Production
Over $1 billion in fresh vegetables are imported into New York State each year. Cornell University, Ithaca New York, developed a lettuce module that provides premium quality, fresh and healthy food to New Yorkers that is competing with lettuce imported from California or Florida. The module is achieved through the use of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). [PDF] CEA crops are available out of season, have high quality, and can be grown without the use of pesticides. The greenhouse module developed by Cornell University can produce 1,200 heads of lettuce per day. The facility has been operational for over 8 years and was transferred to Challenge Industries, operating under the name Finger Lakes Fresh, and will serve as a training center for future operators across New York.
Fingerlakes Aquaculture, Inc., located in Groton, Tompkins County, has been operating a commercial Controlled-Environment Aquaculture (CEAq) facility for nearly 10 years. The facility produces approximately one million pounds of Tilapia per year which is sold into the whole live-fish markets in Philadelphia, Boston and New York. NYSERDA has been a supporter of the company since its inception and has funded several projects including: the initial design and construction of its current facility; various modifications to the system to optimize production; installation of an improved water heating system; and the installation of an automated feeding system. Benefits of these projects include: a reduction in energy and feed consumption and operating costs; the establishment of a new industry in New York State; the availability of less expensive, locally raised fish, without seasonal variations in quantity and quality; and healthier fish (less of a risk of bacteria in fish).