Exploring the potential of concentrating solar power technologies for vertical farming in arid regions: The case of Western Iraq

Kamil A. Khalaf, Ahmed Gamil, Bashar Attiya, Joel Cuello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Indoor vertical farming can address future food insecurity by reducing land use and environmental dependence positively mitigating the environmental impacts associated with conventional agriculture. However, its high energy consumption and environmental impact raise concerns. This paper explores the use of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) to power vertical farming in Iraq's arid regions, using abundant solar resources to reduce environmental impact and energy costs. The study evaluates the feasibility and benefits of integrating CSP technologies into sustainable agricultural practices, considering factors like implementation costs, energy production, and water usage. The study utilized the system advisor model (SAM) to carry out the techno-economic assessment by relocating existing commercial CSP plant in Seville, Spain to six Iraqi locations, following a comprehensive technical site assessment. The energy production level, capacity factor (CF), and levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of the initial Spanish plant were lower than five of the six selected locations. Haditha and Ar Rutbha cities have the highest annual energy output, 123 GWh and 122 GWh, respectively, surpassing Seville's original plant output, which at 110 GWh performed less than Iraq locations. Next, comparisons are made between conventional farming and vertical farming (VF) cultivation. The study focuses on Romaine lettuce as the benchmark crop due to its prevalence in vertical farms and its suitability for arid climates. VF shows the potential to achieve yields between 41 and 68 kg/m2/y, 63 to 104 times higher than conventional farming in Western Iraq. VF's year-round cultivation with artificial lighting results in 83 times greater energy demands, requiring 25 kWh/kg/y. The findings emphasize the potential of CSP technologies to support sustainable agriculture in Iraq's arid regions. These findings demonstrate the possibility of utilizing solar power for sustainable agriculture in Iraq, offering valuable insights for policymakers and stakeholders seeking cost-effective and energy-efficient solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101310
JournalEnergy for Sustainable Development
Volume77
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Concentrated solar power (CSP)
  • Iraq
  • Solar power
  • System advisor model (SAM)
  • Vertical farming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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