Food, Technology

Sundrop Farms pioneering solar-powered greenhouse to grow food without fresh water

A groundbreaking greenhouse that relies on sunlight and seawater to grow tomatoes officially opens next week, 300 kilometres north of Adelaide.

The company Sundrop Farms spent several years developing the idea at a pilot plant on the outskirts of Port Augusta, before building a commercial facility that is 100 times larger.

This is a very special project, head grower Adrian Simkins said.

The 20-hectare futuristic-looking facility includes a field of more than 23,000 mirrors that capture the sunlight and direct it to a central receiver at the top of a 127-metre power tower.

At its peak it produces 39 megawatts of thermal energy, which is used for electricity, heating and making water.

All the water used for irrigating the crops is piped from the Spencer Gulf and converted into fresh water using a thermal desalination unit.

Mr Simkins has spent more than two decades running tomato greenhouses in Europe and North America and says the desalinated water is first-class.

It’s almost the perfect water, he said.

You’re taking all the salt out of it, there’s no disease aspects, it’s very pure and then we’re able to enhance it with the nutrition that the plants require — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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