“The United Nations (UN) predicts the world’ s population will grow by some 2.5 billion people by 2050, and 80 percent of the world’ s population will live in cities. At the same time, 80 percent of the land that is suitable for growing food is already in use. Moreover, extreme weather patterns across the globe have devastated crops, creating higher food prices, and as consumers become more conscious of how their food is produced, it is becoming more difficult for farmers to keep up with urban growth. This is driving innovation of new farming technologies that allow plants to grow without sunlight in indoor environments close to or within cities.” - PHILIPS
One way to dramatically improve the NGCC power plant option for Repurposing Pickering is to mitigate its potential CO2 emissions by introducing a cost effective form of CO2 sequestration. A solution for this would be to establish a greenhouse operation adjacent to the NGCC plant to capture some, if not all, of the CO2 and sequester it in plants to be grown in the greenhouses. Because of the volume of CO2 available, 4 SKIES also recommends utilizing vertical farming techniques which use LED lighting without the need for sunlight. Vertical farming makes more efficient use of land, water and energy to grow food free of pesticides, herbicides, preservatives and GMO seeds. On top, they create dramatically fewer emissions caused by the transportation of food. The optimization of the cultivation process means a better return on investment and a consistent quality of product for customers.
As the global population exceeds 7.5 billion people by 2030 and 9 billion by 2050, this sustainable method of farming will be commonplace as it requires a small footprint to produce high volumes of quality leafy greens year round to local consumers while conserving energy and water.
Special low energy LED lighting illuminate plants from germination to full grown plants with the correct light formula to ensure uniform growth. Growers can control the exact duration, brightness and spectra of light each crop of lettuce gets, ensuring consistent growth all year round. With LED lighting, it is possible to grow crops like herbs, leafy salads, flowers and strawberries year round, even in the winter months. And if LED light can be used in place of daylight, it means that plants like strawberries can be grown in a vertical storage system in warehouses. This would not have been possible previously, because a multi-tiered system in a greenhouse would result in the lower layers of plants being sheltered from daylight.
4 SKIES will team up with IGES Canada Ltd. and others to involve experienced scientists, horticulturalists and lighting technicians to help it plan a large scale produce growing facility as part of Refurbishing Pickering. As much as possible, this state-of-the–art facility will take advantage of the available space surrounding the Pickering Power Plant (and proposed natural gas plant) to use the CO2 and waste heat available to grow fruits and vegetables year round. 4 SKIES envisions the facility will comprise both vertical farming and traditional greenhouse operations. Although mostly food crops would be the focus of the greenhouse facilities, certain herbs and spices, including indigenous medicinal plants and herbs, as well as some species of flowers, would also be considered. A special section would also be reserved for silvaculture to provide seedlings for reforestation projects.
In addition to the produce growing facilities, 4 SKIES envisions an R&D facility established onsite to study the effects of CO2 on various horticulture techniques, crop combinations, lighting systems, hydroponics, organic plant food, and plant nutrition. As part of the R&D centre, will be an algae production facility not only to produce food for the plants, but to study the use of various algae types for their optimization as animal feed and biofuel production. To complete the produce growing facility, 4 SKIES envisions an onsite clean water plant to take advantage of waste heat from the NGCC plant to purify fresh water into distilled water for use in the produce facilities to water the plants. This will ensure the plants are organically pure and free from contaminants.
To get rid of waste from the greenhouses, 4 SKIES envisions setting aside space on the site for an anaerobic digester facility to process organic waste from the greenhouses to produce biogas for gensets to supply power to the greenhouse and possibly for service vehicles equipped to burn natural gas, including produce trucks which deliver the produce to the local market. In addition to biogas, the anaerobic digester would produce nutrient rich digestate which can easily be processed into bio-fertilizers (solid and liquid) for use in the green houses or sold to area gardeners and farmers.