During this edition of the ModulAIR Platform, Sundrop Farms opened the doors to their facility at Port Augusta SA, where Van der Hoeven built the 20 ha greenhouse in 2015. What makes Sundrop Farms unique is the conversion of traditional non-farming land and the addition of a Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, comprising of 23,000 mirrors which track the suns movements and a 127 m high solar receiver to which the sunlight is directed by the mirrors. The CSP plant uses sunlight and seawater to produce electricity, heat and fresh water to operate the greenhouse, thus reducing the consumption of finite resources to a bare minimum (i.e. fossil fuels, electric power and city water). The business is focused on a triple bottom line of people, planet and profits.
Van der Hoeven’s Manager Design & Engineering gave an update on the progress of the first greenhouse with the revolutionary Hygroscopic Adiabatic Cooling system (HACo), which is the latest addition to the ModulAIR greenhouse by Van der Hoeven. HACo makes it possible to create a climate inside the greenhouse to allow crops to grow efficiently in challenging warm and humid climates (i.e. tropical climates). Construction of this 10 hectare greenhouse at Al-Ain, UAE, is well underway and the first 5 hectare block is scheduled to become operational in the second half of April 2018. At the same time another 12 hectare HACo greenhouse is being built in Japan.
What became apparent to the attendees is that each climate all over the world requires a tailor-made approach with the ModulAIR greenhouse to create the desired climate inside. The enthusiasm, passion and energy with which all attendees participated in the numerous discussions on the different subjects demonstrated that the ModulAIR Platform is achieving what Van der Hoeven envisioned: sharing knowledge between growers and giving everyone the opportunity to profit and learn from each other’s experience. Van der Hoeven is already making plans for the next ModulAIR Platform later this year.