4 SKIES believes it has the right solution for the entire property which will effectively repurpose the vacant factory building for growing leafy vegetables, while utilizing much of the parking area immediately west of the main building for advanced vertical farming in multi-level vertical farms buildings. In addition, 4 Skies proposes utilizing as much of the infrastructure as possible from the former power station at the north end of the property for use with a small-scale, natural-gas, power plant. This will certainly provide a source of CO2 needed for the vertical farm production and make the project somewhat self-sufficient in the production of heat and power required to run the entire operation. Furthermore, 4 SKIES believes it may be possible to achieve zero CO2 emissions by properly sizing the natural gas power plant to utilize 100% of the CO2 and by integrating roof-mounted photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.
After an initial assessment of the challenges posed by the scale of the project opportunity, 4 SKIES proposes a holistic solution to convert nearly 600,000 square feet (22,296 m2) of existing floor space in the main factory building into a massive vertical farm operation utilizing proven gully handling systems for producing leafy vegetables, 24/7/365, under a controlled environment, using state-of-the-art artificial LED lighting.
Given that there is currently little or no natural light coming into the factory space now, this would lend itself well to the artificial lighting requirements of the 4 SKIES vertical farm operation. With 20 ft. ceilings throughout, it may also be possible to have two levels of product inside the same footprint to essentially double the growing area to 1,200,000 square feet (111,483 m2). With a typical annual production factor of approximately 912,500 kg per 10,000 m2, the factory building offers a potential to produce up to 10,172,823 kg (10,173 metric tons) of produce per year.
The open parking area west of the factory is more than sufficient to install two more large-scale, multi-floor, vertical-farm buildings, totaling approximately 1,300,000 square feet (120,000 m2) with additional space available for processing and shipping. This will effectively produce an additional 40,531,827 kilograms (40,531.6 metric tons) of produce annually, bringing the total annual production potential of the Taylor St. Project to 50,704,650 kilograms (50,704.6 metric tons).
To provide the 50 MW of power required for the LED lighting, as well as for heating and cooling in the controlled environment of the advanced vertical farms, and directly supply the CO2 required for optimal crop production, 4 SKIES proposes to install a small-scale, 50 MW (2 x 25 MW) natural gas power plant to try to achieve energy self-sufficiency and zero emissions for the project. In addition, 4 SKIES proposes to install up to 2 MW of roof-mounted thin-film PV solar panels to take advantage of the vacant roof space on the factory building and the two proposed vertical farm buildings.
As the schematic above illustrates, in a trigeneration gas plant waste heat is recovered from (1) the primary gas turbine exhaust using a Heat Recovery Steam Generation (HRSG) system to produce steam to drive (2) a standard Ranking Cycle steam turbine and generator. Some of the leftover heat from the steam turbine is diverted to supply heat to (3) distill water and heat the vertical farms required to grow produce and to heat an anaerobic digester to process organic waste from the vertical farms into biogas and bio-fertilizer. In fact, this solution will also divert most, if not all, of the plant’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the vertical farms to help perpetuate plant growth. It is anticipated that the gas turbine can be sized to match the CO2 requirements of the vertical farms, with little or no CO2 emissions being discharged into the atmosphere. However, depending on the cost, it may be possible to install state of the art CO2 scrubbers to clean as much as 90% of the CO2 before diverting the remaining 10% to the greenhouses, allowing for the possibility of oversizing the gas turbine to sell surplus power.
The natural gas power plant will be designed and built using proven, “best-in-class” technology, including: gas turbine and generator, HRSG system, steam turbine and generator, electrical and mechanical systems, sub-systems and components, engineered and designed to work together and to integrate with the existing power sub-station left over from the former coal plant that was installed in 1942 to power the Taylor Plant. The roof-mounted PV system will also be tied into the sub-station.
It is anticipated that the existing sub-station will require significant modifications or replacement to bring it up to today’s standards.
Upon completion of the feasibility study and presuming the project will meet its economic targets, 4 SKIES will raise the capital needed for the project from private investors. 4 SKIES may offer equity participation to local partners if there is interest to participate in the project. With assistance from its greenhouse partner, IGES Canada Ltd., 4 SKIES, is more than capable of managing the installation and operation of the project.
Given the requirements for a 50 MW gas power plant and 2 MW of PV solar panels, which General Electric supplies in their normal course of business, it is highly anticipated that GE will be interested in the project as a potential supplier.
Before and during the commencement of the feasibility study, 4 SKIES would certainly welcome any feedback from GE, the City of Fort Wayne and local partners, to ensure the project is successful and meets expectations