How to grow tomatoes in the desert
Sundrop Farms is creating an amazing oasis of high-value produce, using sunshine and seawaterDATE 2016-05-12 AUTHOR CHAD HENDERSON PHOTO SIMON CASSON & SUNDROP FARMS
IN THE AUSTRALIAN DESERT, Sundrop Farms is building a massive greenhouse complex with a technological solution and commercial scale that have never been attempted before. A state-of-the-art integrated solar energy system, provided by Aalborg CSP, will heat the greenhouses, produce electricity and generate energy to run a desalination unit from Alfa Laval, which will produce freshwater to irrigate the crops.
The farm – about 16 kilometres southeast of Port Augusta, South Australia – receives 300 days of sunshine per year, and saltwater is obtained from the nearby Spencer Gulf. Sundrop Farms’ expansion project, which should be complete in October 2016, uniquely combines technology from some of the top suppliers in their respective fields. And it could be a solution to several pressing global issues.
TECHNICAL SOLUTION - How the CSP (concentrated solar power) system works
- Radiant energy from the sun hits a field of mirrors with a combined surface area of more than 50,000 sq metres, together capable of producing 267,000 MWh on a perfect solar day.
- A 116-metre-high tower reflects the radiant energy to a receiver (an advanced boiler system) which converts the solar energy into thermal energy.
- Of the 44 gigawatt hours of energy produced each year, 40 percent is used to produce freshwater in Alfa Laval’s desalination unit, 50 percent is used for heating, and ten percent for electricity.
- During the winter period, a diesel backup boiler sustains production. It accounts for about five percent of total annual energy production.
PRODUCT - Alfa Laval MED
Five benefits with Alfa Laval MED
- Titanium plate type evaporators for long lifetime without corrosion
- 100% performance recovery after cleaning
- Lowest total water production costs
- Highest availability
- Simple and full automatic operation and easy maintenance
With the growing population we need more produce.
But on the other hand we have limited resources…
Our solution could have a really big impact.”
REINER WOLTERBEEK, CTO AT SUNDROP FARMS
Sundrop Farms has built a profitable business case that can be used to sustainably produce food in similar climates around the world.”
CEO OF AALBORG CSP
We hope this project will be an example to others, where high-quality freshwater can be produced at a low cost, using only solar energy.”
BUSINESS MANAGER AT ALFA LAVAL