4 SKIES’ proposal for the KAHNAWAKE Gas Power Plant and Vertical Farming Operation Project offers tremendous economic value to KAHNAWAKE in terms of job creation and other economic benefits. Aside from the 300 – 400 jobs created during construction, there will be 300 – 400 full time jobs created on-site to operate and maintain the project on an annual basis once the project’s facilities are completed. These numbers will need to be verified in the feasibility study, if direct employment and indirect employment figures are taken into consideration, these employment figures could easily double for a project of this scale.
Operation of the gas power plant will be outsourced to an O&M company that specializes in running gas power plants for plant owners. Training of employees to operate the gas plant will be reasonably straightforward for the selected O&M company. The vertical farm operation will be more of a challenge given that most employees involved will likely be new to vertical farming and greenhouses.
Though there will be opportunities for unskilled labor, there will also be specialized skillsets required to ensure a large-scale vertical farm operation functions smoothly. A detailed list of required jobs and training needed will be addressed in the feasibility study.
The scale of this project will pose some interesting challenges and opportunities. The challenge of course will be to carefully plan the project to be cost effective, efficient and safe, and to deliver it on time and on budget. Yet, a project of this scale also represents a significant opportunity to explore new ideas and concepts through dedicated research, such as: studying the effects of CO2 on plant growth in the absence of natural sunlight using light emitting computer (LEC) technology; researching which types of food crops perform better in climate controlled vertical farms and greenhouses; exploring the benefits of indigenous plants and herbs in medicinal applications, examining algae growth and production techniques for use in CO2 sequestration and for use as an energy crop; and studying biofuel production methods using anaerobic digestion and enzymes designed to improve production yields, and testing the use of different biofuels used in energy production using fuel cells and co-generation systems.
An R&D facility would undoubtedly attract world-class engineers, scientists and horticulturalists to work and study together, which may lead to expanded knowledge and technologies needed to improve crop yields and food production under controlled conditions, something that may be necessary in the future to feed the world’s growing population which is already struggling to keep up.
Environmental sustainability involves making decisions and taking actions that are in the interest of protecting the natural world, with particular emphasis on preserving the capability of the environment to support all life. Underlining this project is the need to identify a workable solution to achieving zero CO2 emissions regardless of the size of the gas power plant that will be installed. It is important that whatever solution is chosen it will need to strike a fine balance between delivering a reliable, economical power and food supply while protecting the environment.
Although natural gas in North America is seen by many as the answer to sustainable energy, because it is plentiful and burns cleaner and more efficiently than all other fossil fuels, it nonetheless discharges huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, as much as 345 kilograms per MWh. In fact, CO2 is arguably a leading cause of “global warming” and whether we choose to accept or ignore the science behind global warming the effects of global warming can be devastating if measures are not taken seriously to try to curb the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere. 4 SKIES’ solution for the KAHNAWAKE Project calls for a 22 MW natural gas plant with no CO2 scrubbing technology included. By necessity, in order to achieve zero CO2 emissions economically, a vertical farm operation capable of producing 25,361 metric tons per year of organic produce needs to be installed. By removing 100% of the CO2 through absorption by the vertical farm operation, the net effect will be zero CO2 emissions.
As Environmental Sustainability is one of the main tenets of the 4 SKIES concept, the goal of Environmental Sustainability will continue to be paramount in all 4 SKIES projects. Tri-Gen-Zero™ is simply the best and most economical solution for delivering sustainable, small-scale and utility-scale, natural gas power plants with zero CO2 emissions. The fact that large-scale vertical farming and greenhouse operations are likely to be part of the solution ensures that sustainable food security can be achieved as well, closing the distance between the source and the consumer to further reduce the carbon footprint normally associated with delivering food to our table.