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Study on energy savings in greenhouses and indoor farms

CalNEXT, a statewide initiative to identify, test, and grow electric technologies and delivery methods to support California's decarbonized future, has selected Energy Resources Integration (ERI) to study the benefits of integrated lighting, HVAC, and irrigation control systems for greenhouses and indoor farms.

The study will produce a technology roadmap for California's electric utilities. ERI's "Smart Controls for Data-Driven Indoor Agriculture Field Evaluation" will identify new utility rebate programs to support growers with smart environmental controls. The project focuses on automated, integrated, and intelligent environmental control technologies and investigates energy savings potential and barriers to adoption across the California CEA industry.

The study aims to establish a baseline of controls and operations in existing California greenhouses and indoor farms, understand the barriers to technology adoption, demonstrate the performance of smart control technologies, and identify key solutions to accelerate technology transfer and maximize energy savings.

A market assessment will explore the market potential and evaluate the impact of smart control technologies on CEA, which involves the cultivation and manufacturing of food, floriculture, and cannabis products. Grower surveys, interviews, and site visits will be conducted March 2024 – June 2024. Manufacturer partner Microclimates will support four field demonstrations to showcase energy savings from smart control strategies from July 2024 – February 2025.

This project is funded by CalNEXT and will be implemented by Energy Resources Integration
and Microclimates with support from the Cornell University Greenhouse Lighting and Systems Engineering (GLASE) consortium. Collaborations with industry leaders such as Microclimates and GLASE are crucial to support the field demonstrations and ensure the research team produces research-based insights utilities can use to create new programs.

"CalNEXT's vision is to identify emerging technology trends and bring commercially available technologies to the energy efficiency program portfolio. We are looking forward to supporting this project and sharing the results," said the CalNEXT Program Implementers. "CalNEXT is a great opportunity for programs to see their full potential, to get the evaluation and implementation support they need, and for good ideas to come to life and make major impacts to support California's decarbonized future."

"The ERI team is thrilled to lead this groundbreaking project aimed at revolutionizing the indoor agriculture industry in California. Our study on integrated lighting, HVAC, and irrigation control systems underscores our commitment to creating lasting change by significantly reducing energy expenditure in CEA facilities. This project marks ERI's first collaboration with the CalNEXT initiative, and we are eager to contribute to innovative advancements in energy efficiency in greenhouses and indoor farms. This project will help forge a new path for efficient controls in these energy-intensive facilities and create a new target for the industry," shares Eric Noller, Principal and Founder of ERI.

"Given the imperative of ensuring food security, technology companies are poised to provide significant influence and we feel immensely privileged to contribute to this pivotal project. At Microclimates, we are committed to championing this cause by backing initiatives aimed at scientifically validating the efficacy of integrated controls and energy reduction measures. As an environmental automation company rooted in the seamless integration of environmental systems within operations, we can offer nuanced insights into energy consumption patterns. Engaging in this study represents a natural progression for us," said Neda Vaseghi, CEO and Founder of Microclimates.

For more information:
Neda Vaseghi, Executive division
+1 425 931 3778

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