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Skyscraper Greenhouses to Feed the World of Tomorrow

The global population is expected to reach over nine billion by 2050; that is a lot of extra mouths to feed. Some experts estimate that 80 percent of the planets arable land is already being used for agriculture, and the WWF has said that if consumption levels remain the same by 2050, we will need two Earths in order to produce the food needed.

The Swedish company, Plantagon, believes that in the future food could be grown in skyscraper sized greenhouses in cities around the world. Anders Modig, the company’s global sustainability director, said that the greenhouses would have a tightly controlled climate and could produce thousands of tonnes of food a year, enough to feed up to 30,000 people.

The crops will be seeded at the top of the tower and move downwards on a spiral that runs through the centre of the building, until after two to three months they arrive at the bottom ready to be harvested.

Growing the crops in such a way vastly increases the yield per acre, the whole process can operate without the need to use pesticides, and external weather will not affect the crops because the temperature, levels of carbon dioxide and water vapour can all be carefully controlled.

Carin Balfe Arbman, the head of communications at Plantagon, said that “the purpose is to make it sustainable and use the resources of a city that we don't often see as resources. We use the excess heat from buildings to heat the greenhouse and also carbon dioxide from outside is turned into oxygen. And you can make biogas from what comes out of the greenhouse.”

Anders Modig understands that cities may be unwilling to sacrifice valuable land for arable use, and therefore plans to “combine it with some other type of services, like an office. Half could be a greenhouse, half could be an office or shopping area. Or maybe just build it on the top, so the vegetables come right to the supermarket.”

Plantagon is already building its first greenhouse in the city of Linköping, about 200km southwest of Stockholm. The 54 metre high cone will cost £19 million and is expected to be completed in 2014. The building will combine offices with the greenhouse, which should make it profitable long before the vegetables are sold.

Plantagon have decided to grow Pak Choi in order to try and encourage Asian investors, and will also look to target the US, who are experiencing a major drought, and Africa.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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