Japan, and other semi tropical regions with high humidity, have challenging climates that are difficult to grow vegetables in over the summer season. To overcome this, SARA (Smart Agribusiness Research & Alliance) teamed up with Van der Hoeven, who developed a new climate system that allowed for an innovative semi-closed greenhouse setting. The design combines leading-edge innovations with renewable energy technologies, creating an efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective agricultural system. SARA is situated on a vast area of reclaimed land, Kasaoka Bay, that covers an area of 13 hectares, making it the largest-scale operation of its kind in Japan. To power the greenhouses, a clean energy biomass power generation plant is used, that generates energy by burning palm nut shells: a waste product with otherwise no further application.
The biomass plant generates electricity to supply to the grid and power the greenhouse. The waste heat that is generated in this process is used for heating and to power a thermally driven chiller that subsequently cools the greenhouse in summer. Additionally, the CO2-rich and cooled-down exhaust gasses are stripped of harmful components and supplied to the greenhouse to increase plant growth. The result is a sustainable, recycling-oriented facility that is not only capable of meeting its own energy needs, but also supplies an excess to the surrounding community. In other words, SARA simultaneously implements both agricultural and renewable energy operations with an underlying philosophy that natural food should be produced while using wholesome, but advanced techniques.