Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) is crop production within an enclosed structure, and it is growing fast in the US. CEA includes vertical farming, the market for which is projected to reach $3 billion by 2024. CEA requires fewer chemicals, a smaller growing area, and less water than traditional farming. Its lone ecological drawback is energy usage, lighting in particular. Right now, legal marijuana cultivation in the US consumes enough electricity to power over 90,000 homes. In response, the non-profit DesignLights Consortium is trying to incentivize high performance, efficient lighting, including the widespread adoption of commercial LED grow lights.
- In less than two decades approximately 10 million acres of U.S. farmland has been lost to development.
- With so much acreage lost to other uses, the face of U.S. agriculture is changing. Crops are being grown in stacked layers, within enclosed structures.
- This concept, known as Controlled Environment Agriculture, is a profitable system, projected to reach a 3 billion share within the next five years.
“Acknowledging that biggest culprit in this equation is the intense lighting needed for effective indoor horticulture, the DOE report referenced above stated that switching to all light-emitting diode (LED) technology could reduce electricity usage in the vertical farming sector alone by 40 percent, saving approximately $240 million”